A new girl to the sixth form merits a party, but the headmistress doesn’t approve. From the old site.
By Joanna Jones
After completing my O-levels at my local grammar school. I won a sixth form academic scholarship to a fairly well known girls only boarding school.
To say it came as something of a culture shock to start would be a bit of an understatement.
The first was probably sharing a dorm with five others. I was the only new sixth former in the dorm, so they all knew each other, although not all as dorm-mates as the dorm arrangements were mixed up for the sixth. However, it certainly was very different to having my own bedroom at home! I found that I was much less self-conscious getting changed after a few days with the others, who clearly were used to nothing else for the past few years.
The other change was the school’s discipline policy. At the local grammar, while the cane and slipper were employed, it was mainly on boys. Further, on the very rare occasion a girl got caned it would be to her hands. The majority of girls went through their career there (as I did) without experiencing any corporal punishment, and most of the remainder had perhaps one slippering or two to their names. I was to find quickly that things were ‘somewhat’ different at my new school.
Of my dorm-mates Becky was the most outgoing of the five, and it was she who suggested that there should be a welcome party for me, to which the other four enthusiastically agreed. I was less certain as I was pretty sure that such parties would be frowned upon, but I certainly was not going to be the party pooper in my first week!
It was after that I realised that there was going to be an additional risk. Someone had to go to the local village shop, which also served as the off-licence, to get a bottle of cheap vodka. That someone apparently needed to be me; importantly (so I was told) the shopkeeper would not recognise me, whereas they were all known by sight. Even over eighteen, she would not serve a school pupil.
Sixth formers could easily get a pass out at weekends, but there was a serious risk of discovery if someone was seen carrying bottle sized objects back in. However, Becky had a solution which was to pass it through the fence and leave it in the undergrowth. Rachel, who was very serious about her athletics and got up early to run round the grounds more or less every morning, would pick it up and leave it in a hiding place much nearer the school, where it could be picked up again and hidden in a games bag to be smuggled back to the dorm.
Amazingly the plan worked. The shopkeeper accepted a story I spun her about visiting a ‘best’ friend whose parents had recently moved from my town to the country. I claimed to be visiting her before the University term started as we only got rare chances to see each other now that we were studying in different institutions.
By Sunday evening the liquid was safely hidden in the dorm along with some juice to dilute it with, a few cheap disposable plastic cups and some snacks.
We scheduled our party for the following Friday night.
After lights out, 11.15 pm for sixth formers on a Friday and Saturday, we waited about half an hour for any patrolling teachers or prefects to disappear.
We had quite a bit of fun fooling and chatting about things, and our tongues were certainly loosened by the contents of the bottle that we had.
All in all we were all quite giggly when the headmistress discovered us somewhat after 1.30 am. Apparently she’d been out at a function in the neighbouring town and had noticed a light glimmering through the curtains on her way back to her residence next to the school. Unfortunately for us she had decided to investigate.
She was quite relaxed when she first came in; it was a Friday and we were sixth formers after all. “Come on girls,” she said fairly brightly. “Lights out was over two hours ago!”
Then her face darkened considerably as she saw the bottle being hidden under Caroline’s bed linen, smelt the alcohol that was on our breaths and of course in the plastic cups we had near us.
She swooped down on Caroline and retrieved the bottle which by this point was more than three quarters empty.
“Would anyone care to explain this?” Said Miss Findhorn dangerously.
I certainly was sobering up fast and, apart from Tricia, who was unfortunately rather giggly, so I could see were the rest of my new friends.
Nobody spoke. After a pause that seemed an age she asked the question that I was dreading.
“Which of you is responsible for bringing this onto the school grounds?” She queried as she held the bottle up.
Eventually, after a pause to get my courage up, I spoke. “I am Miss.”
“Joanna Black, isn’t it?” A rhetorical question as she continued: “So do you want to explain how it comes to be in this dorm.”
“I bought it at the village shop. We were having a bit of a party.”
“And you do know that alcohol is banned, I presume.”
“Yes Miss.” I replied quietly.
Miss Findhorn looked at us a long time, before coming to her conclusion. “I am not going to discuss this further tonight, given the inebriated state you all are, at least to some degree, in.” Her eyes had glanced at Tricia, who was very flushed, as she said this.
“I will return at seven in the morning when I shall look into this further.” She intimated, and then as an afterthought as she left she continued: “There will be no need to change out of your nightwear.”
We were then left in the dark to ponder the morning visit. After a minute or so, once the footsteps taking away the remnants of our bottle and cups had receded down the corridor, we started a whispered conversation.
Rachel was the first to speak. “Now we’re for it.”
There were murmurs of assent from the other four.
I risked a question. “What’s going to happen tomorrow?”
Rachel replied simply: “She’s going to punish us”.
“Yes, but how? Detention? Or will she give us the slipper?”
There was a stifled laugh from Tricia but the others were silent as they absorbed my naivety.
It was Caroline that eventually spoke. “Sorry Jo, but she’s going to cane us.”
“The cane!? But isn’t that just for girls who are always in trouble or do something really over the top?”
Caroline replied again. “No I am afraid not. The cane is well used here. We’ve all had it a few times.”
Becky continued: “And I think having an alcohol fuelled midnight feast party is in Miss Findhorn’s book as you say ‘really over the top’ in any case.”
“The cane.” I muttered to myself. “I feel sick.”
Amy, who was relatively quiet, spoke for the first time. “It’s not so bad Jo. Yes it’s really sore at the time, but at least you get the punishment out of the way.”
Trying to show less fear than I felt I replied: “So your hands recover fairly quickly then?”
Another pregnant pause, and I realised that I had got still more to learn.
“Miss Findhorn usually whacks your bum, which is actually less bad I think in any case.” Said Amy.
I wondered if Amy was telling the truth about it being worse on the hands or just trying to help me.
Amy continued: “I expect that’s why she wants us in our pyjamas, don’t you think?”
“If she lets us keep them on.” Whispered Tricia.
“What?” I gasped rather loudly, getting a mild “shhhh!” from Amy.
“I suspect she’s sufficiently annoyed to pull our PJ bottoms down.” Tricia continued quietly.
“Surely that’s not allowed!” I exclaimed in a shocked whisper.
“She doesn’t do it often, but there is nothing to stop her; in loco parentis and all that.” Said Tricia.
“Come on Tricia, we’ve all had the cane and come through it. It’s not as bad as all that. I don’t think this is helping Jo.” Said Caroline
Tricia replied stubbornly: “I am only letting her know what might happen now; better than a surprise in the morning, I think. And on that subject, talking as if canings are not too bad, you all seem to be forgetting that we are in the sixth form now!”
Another pause, but it was Becky who broke the silence in a rather sick voice. “Oh Jeepers! I forgot that. My big sister got the cane in the sixth form for smoking. She said it was too horrible to talk about; much worse than the lower years. She did say she never smoked in school again. Sorry Jo, I know I am not helping.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked nervously. I was not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“Longer, heavier, thicker cane. Hurts more and for a lot longer.” Said Rachel nervously. “I heard from my big sister that one of her dorm-mates got it and she was in an absolute state. Sixth form canings by the Head are much rarer than in the rest of the school, but if she decides you’re going to get it then she has a reputation of really making you pay.”
Caroline brought the debate to a close. “Let’s try to get some sleep. We’re all going to need to be ready in the morning, whatever is going to happen.”
With that we quietened down, but whether any of us slept is difficult to say. I lay awake for a long time feeling somewhere between shock and panic. My body seemed to tingle with the anticipation of what was to come. I must have slept a little but it was punctuated by odd thoughts and dreams. It was like being a weird state that is half-awake and half-asleep at the same time. Whatever the case I eventually vaguely heard a noise, then found myself being nudged by Rachel whose bed was nearest mine. I must have eventually fallen asleep though I don’t really recall actually having done so.
As I came fully to, what had happened and what could be expected to happen came flooding back into my consciousness. “What is the time?” I asked groggily.
“Quarter to seven; we have fifteen minutes to have this room tidy. She’ll expect that.” Replied Rachel.
As we made our beds and tidied our belongings neatly inside our cabinets, a subdued conversation ensued. I did not participate much but, to cut a long story short, the majority of it revolved around what was going to happen; whether she really would use the cane she kept for sixth formers, how many strokes we would get, and of course whether we would be allowed to keep our pyjama bottoms on. The consensus seemed to be probably not, based on a review of the stories they had heard although in most cases nobody knew what state of (un)dress the sixth form girl in question had got it in.
The debate did nothing for my mental state, and it did not help that they would occasionally glance over to see if I was okay.
What was preying on my mind was that in addition to drinking, I of course had admitted to purchasing the vodka. It did not need a genius to work out that I was consequently likely to be punished more severely. All I could hope was that as a “new girl” with no experience of such punishment she might go easy on me a bit. Perhaps tactfully, or perhaps because they were more concerned with their own impending doom, the other girls did not raise that issue once.
We were all ready just before seven, and waited in a cluster in the middle of the dorm. We were all wearing thin cotton pyjamas, apart from Rachel who had on a thin nightdress. It was still warm enough and the weather had been remarkably good for September. I had some thicker brushed cotton pyjamas and it was sorely tempting to change, but I did not want to do anything to tempt the fates that might increase the chances of ending up bare bottomed.
We all stood around very nervously, tension increasing all the time, as the clock ticked beyond seven. She was late; deliberately, was the muttered view of my colleagues.
It was not until nearly quarter past seven that our headmistress finally appeared. My stomach sank as I saw a cane in her right hand.
I heard Becky mutter under her breath “Oh no!” And knew then, despite never having seen a cane before, that the cane she had was not the ordinary one but this special ‘sixth form’ one that had been discussed so much since her first visit to our dorm. I remember she put it down on the nearest bed, which happened to be mine, before surveying us with her hands on her hips. It was a dark brown rod, crook handle at the end, slightly curved along the remainder, and seemed to be about a yard in length.
Miss Findhorn still looked angry as we waited for her to start. She was already fully dressed in a dark blue skirt, with a blouse. However, she was not wearing a fashionably fitted suit jacket matching the skirt as she usually did. Although she was apparently over fifty, she was no frumpy, grey-haired dragon, and actually looked to be in her early forties.
When I had met her before, during my application process and on the first day, I had been struck how friendly and accessible she was. However, now she looked far more stern and austere than Mr Josephs, headmaster of my previous school.
It felt like I was standing in front of a different person. As I found out later, she really was a great ‘hands-on’ headteacher; she wanted the best for and from us and would support us in every way she could. The counter was if you let her down she really let you know about it.
Eventually she spoke. “I am not, as you know, averse to a little high jinks, and when I saw the light on, even though it was late, I felt nothing was needed other than a quiet word.”
“However, an alcohol fuelled binge is totally unacceptable.”
I thought the word ‘binge’ was a bit over the top. None of us had been that seriously drunk, but I was certainly not going to say so.
She continued, as we stood nervously in front of her, to explain the dangers of such over-indulgence; ‘what could happen if there was a fire alarm’, and how the activities of sixth formers can be examples for younger pupils where the risks were even higher.
It was a very unpleasant lecture in which we were all rather sorry as she completed by reminding us that she viewed those in the sixth form as students to set an example to those in younger years, and that those who shirked that responsibility must accept exemplary consequences.
She then started announcing our fates. “I strongly suspect that the idea for this party was not just Joanna’s. Is that the case?”
None of the others denied this as they glanced briefly at each other, while maintaining a strong interest in the rug that part covered the dorm floor.
“I am going to give you each four strokes for arranging and participating in this so called party, except you Joanna.”
I saw out of the corner of my eye a sick looking Amy, as I reluctantly looked at my headmistress who looked at me intensely. I felt very uncomfortable.
“Why I was a little late was because I phoned Mrs Wilson in the village shop, which opens at quarter to seven for the morning papers. She soon recalled serving you and was surprised you were one of the pupils here. She said she asked you about where you came from and you spun her some tale about visiting a friend before University term started. Is this so?”
“Yes miss.” I replied.
She looked at me coldly before starting her lecture specifically to me. “So not only do you bring alcohol onto school premises but you deceived a very supportive local business owner into serving you, despite the agreement she has not to serve alcohol or cigarettes to pupils. I presume you knew about that rule.”
Reluctantly I had to nod and answer: “Yes miss,” once again.
She continued: “I am extremely disappointed in you. We expect those girls coming in on academic scholarships to be not only high fliers but a positive influence on the rest of the cohort in all aspects of the school experience. What you did is anything but.”
“I have also spoken to your parents this morning and they also are shocked and appalled at your behaviour, as your record at your previous school, and at home, indicates you normally to be a well behaved girl.”
I felt tears running down my cheeks as she continued.
“You have never been caned before have you?”
“No Miss, not even the slipper,” I replied quietly. “Please, I have been very silly and I am very sorry.”
Miss Findhorn seemed to consider for a moment before discussing my fate.
“Sorry you may be, but you place me in a very difficult position. On the one hand you are new to the school, were honest enough to admit your guilt, and I am sure that you worked with your dorm-mates in arranging this ‘party’. On the other you have let the school, your parents and yourself down very badly, breaking important school rules and telling lies to do so. If you had been in trouble with me before I would be considering a very severe caning and possibly even a week long suspension.”
She paused, I wonder now if it was for effect or whether she still was making up her mind.
“I really should give you eight strokes,” she mused. “But have decided you will have four, the same as your friends here.”
I briefly felt relieved until she continued. “However, I am going to make an example of you in case any other sixth formers are so foolishly tempted. You will receive your punishment in front of the entire sixth form, at a special assembly I shall call for nine o’clock, directly after breakfast.”
I heard a couple of gasps from my mates as the punishment was intimated. All I felt was cold shock as I stood there taking in the fact that I was to experience my first caning in front of all the sixth formers. The concept of being thrashed in public had never really entered my darkest thoughts till that point.
However, Miss Findhorn was not finished with me. She had one further unpleasant surprise. “In addition, your father has indicated he will emphasise his disappointment when you go home for half-term. As he was unsure where to acquire a suitable cane I have arranged an order at the village shop for you to pick up for him. You will need to use your allowance for the purchase, and it will be an opportunity for you to apologise to Mrs Wilson for your deceit.”
Dully I wondered what she had said to my parents to create that punishment as they were not ‘spankers’ at all till that point. Overriding that was a feeling of utter shock and misery; the prospect of the forthcoming humiliations left me with tears quietly running down my cheeks as Miss Findhorn picked up her cane again.
Joanna I suggest you change into full school uniform while I deal with your friends.
I got out everything I needed first, choosing a pair of white socks rather than tights, and settled on very plain white knickers to wear under the knee length uniform grey skirt. I felt a bit self conscious again as I stripped off my pyjamas and got dressed with the headmistress being present, although her attention was elsewhere.
As I was changing I (somewhat more than) half-watched and listened to what was going on, of course.
Miss Findhorn decided to punish them over the ends of their beds. They each had to fold their duvet at the end and put their pillow on top. She then ordered each of them to bend over the pile, face on the mattress with their pyjama bottoms around their ankles, or in Rachel’s case with her nightie up onto her back.
It was Tricia who asked if they could not keep them on, which resulted in another lecture the synopsis of which was that Miss Findhorn indicated (again) that sixth formers were the senior pupils, young women, who were supposed to set an example, that she disliked having to punish us, but that if she did she did her best to ensure we did not wish a repeat. Part of that philosophy was to always give the cane to a sixth former bare bottomed.
Any lingering hope that I might be spared that ignominy left me as I saw them take up their allotted positions. I noticed they each had their face turned to the left side on the mattress, and were gripping tightly to their mattress edges.
She went to Becky first, whose bed was more or less opposite mine, such that her upturned bottom was now facing me. Her face was turned away so I could not see her reaction, although her hands perceptibly tightened further on the mattress edge. Her, mainly pale blue, pyjama top was gently pulled up to the small of her back by Miss Findhorn, rather unnecessary in my view as the garment seemed well out the way of the target in any case.
I thought I saw Becky shudder as she placed the cane gently across her buttocks. I was in the final stages of getting my skirt on as I realised things were about to start, but quickly resumed tucking my blouse in as Miss Findhorn glared briefly at me.
The first stroke landed as I started to knot my tie. I was appalled at the speed and hum of the cane as it swished down and landed with a dull crack on poor Becky’s bottom. I heard her gasp and groan, and saw a line across her bottom appear rapidly. I could not imagine what it felt like, but knew that whatever it did I was going to know exactly in less than two hours time.
Miss Findhorn tapped a few more times and then brought it down a second time. It was hard for me at the time to understand how someone who was so friendly and positive when I had met her before could deliberately hit with so much effort. I heard Becky give a small wail as the effect of the stroke hit and a second line appeared below the first.
By now I had finished getting a neat knot in the blue and red striped tie and had only my shoes and school blazer left. As I slipped on the black sandals and buckled them up my head was turned away from the ‘action’, so I only heard the louder scream as the third stroke was received. I saw the final stroke hit Becky low on her buttocks with clearly the maximum effort our Headmistress could exert, eliciting and ear splitting yell from the recipient. From the sniffles and groans I could tell Becky was crying.
“Don’t move young lady,” she ordered Becky as moved to Caroline’s bed. She, then looked at me as I shrugged on my blazer, I was finally fully dressed.
Miss Findhorn clearly noticed I was ready and her next order was aimed at me. “Joanna, stand next to your bed with your hands on your head. You can watch and understand what I do to young ladies who chose to behave like naughty little girls.”
I did as I was told.
Miss Findhorn once again took her time preparing, tugging Caroline’s pink pyjama top high on her back and lining up the fist stroke with a series of gentle taps before the swish of the first real stroke descended.
Caroline did not take her caning quite as well as Becky, every stroke that whistled down was succeeded by loud screams and sobs.
As she did throughout all five punishments the Headmistress took her time with each stroke, spinning out the punishment in doing so.
Caroline was really sobbing profusely by the end. She, like Becky, now had four angry red marks from the middle to lower end of her backside.
Tricia and Amy had the two beds at the far end of the dorm from me. In comparison to the two before, Tricia managed to take her four cuts fairly stoically, despite Miss Findhorn really lashing her final cane stroke down on the lowest part of her hindquarters, which elicited a small wail of pain. I could not see if she was crying or not. However, I hoped I would be able to take the punishment I was due as well as she had. My fear was I would jump up screaming after the first stroke.
Amy and Rachel both had their faces turned towards me and I had seen them flinch and grimace as the sound of rattan hitting our friends’ flesh was heard. Now it was Amy’s turn. I watched get screw up her eyes in determination as Miss Findhorn started gently tapping her rear.
As the cane cracked Amy’s eyes opened wide and then she cried out as the pain hit home. On the second I saw the contortions in her face as she gave a loud scream. On the third she not only screamed but reached back with her right hand to grip her bottom. I was horrified at her reaction.
In contrast Miss Findhorn was unimpressed.
“How dare you!” she shouted. “You know exactly how I expect you to take your punishment! You will have that again and one extra for disobedience. Get that hand away now!”
I was appalled that poor Amy was now up to a total of six strokes, and watched in horror as she desperately screamed sobbed and begged her way through the three remaining strokes that were inflicted. Her agonies seemed to get worse with each cut. When I first had been told I was getting a public thrashing instead of eight I had wondered if getting the extra four would have been better. I now was sure that the publicity was a lesser evil!
Amy could not stop bawling her eyes out as the Head moved to Rachel, whose bed was closest to mine. With her nightdress already well out the way, she at least did not suffer the humiliation of having her top tugged up further. However, all I really remember of the punishment itself was how obvious the violence of each stroke was, only a few yards in front of me, and how well Rachel took it despite the grimaces as the impact of each blow was felt.
The other memory was of the sickness rising as I realised, even though it was still over an hour away, that the cane’s next appointment was with my posterior!
Finally it was over. Miss Findhorn allowed them to get up and watched them do so in various states of distress. She then said she expected them all to be waiting outside the small hall at quarter to nine, along with me of course. Unlike me they did not need to wear uniform.
Finally she looked at Rachel, who despite being last punished, looked least distressed. “Rachel,” she said. “There are various rules when a student gets an assembly caning. Please ensure Joanna knows them and understands what to do.”
With that she left us, saying she would be visiting the other sixth form dorms to inform them of the impromptu assembly to be held that morning. It was by now just after a quarter to eight. On a Saturday, while there was not the same rules, unless ill, one was expected to be down by quarter past eight at the latest.
While I felt pretty ill at what I had seen, and more relevantly could soon expect to feel, that was obviously going to be no excuse.
Amy had a large tub of cream which she said would help soothe things. I helped gently rub it in to the others’ bottoms which gave me a rather too intimate feel of the four nasty red tramline ridges that adorned them. Becky did Amy, so fortunately I did not then see the effects of her extra blows in that much detail.
There were still tears and groans as each of them tried to deal with the pain, All of us were impressed how well Rachel and Tricia, who looked only a little red eyed, took it.
Rachel, the only one to be totally dry eyed, commented that it was still agony, but maybe she was lucky to be last as perhaps the Head had been tiring. I didn’t think so; Rachel was one brave girl!
As they slowly got dressed, noticeably avoiding tight fitting clothes, Rachel fulfilled her obligation to tell me the rules.
Apparently canings in front of a year group were quite rare but tended to happen a few times in each form in a year. It was possible to be caned in front of the whole school, but that was exceptional. It had happened twice in the five years they had all been at the school, both times for cases where repeat bullying had been involved. I asked what had happened, but at that point they would not tell me other than it was nothing like what was going to happen to me and I should therefore not worry about it.
To be fair I was worrying enough at is was.
In addition to outlining what I could expect, I found that I would have to wear my full uniform all week without exception, I was confined to school grounds for two weeks without special permission, and also all sixth form uniform privileges were in my case banned for a week; no tights or stockings, no makeup at all and no ‘discrete jewellery’ (except plain ear studs if necessary). Rachel also warned me to be extra careful as I was also on report; teachers were expected to show no flexibility on any minor misdemeanour to a publicly caned pupil for the following week. Very few of those who got a caning at an assembly avoided a slippering or two (or more!) in the days that followed as a result.
Just on quarter past eight we all trooped down to the main hall, which doubled up as the dining room, for breakfast. The rest of the sixth form had of course only one topic of conversation, which was why the assembly. I stood out like a sore thumb on a Saturday sitting in my uniform which immediately led to them putting two and two together and making four.
It seemed everybody knew that I was going to get ‘it’. I glimpsed a table of third formers giggling as they surreptitiously pointed across. Other sixth formers who knew my dorm-mates came across to get the story. The others tried to shoo them away and protect and encourage me as best they could, but the fact that none of them were able to sit in any comfort did not help. Caroline was still very red eyed and looked as if anything could start her again. Amy was still intermittently crying as she wriggled on her chair, sipped some orange juice and barely nibbled at a piece of toast. Needless to say I did not eat much either.
In some ways it was good to escape to go to the small hall, away from the prying eyes and partly hidden giggles, although of course it was another step closer to my encounter with the cane.
We arrived on time and our headmistress was waiting for us. She left the others outside and invited me in. I was shaking like a leaf as I walked into the room. It was oppressively empty with the two of us only.
Miss Findhorn, started almost kindly. She asked if I understood what was going to happen, and whether I had any questions. I fidgeted as I briefly outlined what Rachel told me, and she confirmed it was correct.
Miss Findhorn made a final comment that she was of the view that I had made a foolish mistake that was out of character, perhaps with the excitement of the new school. She told me she had no option but to make an example of me one way or the other, and was sure that this was the best way, given my lack of experience in receiving a punishment like this.
Finally she reminded me to do exactly what I was told as she would give extra, as she had with Amy, if I did not. With that she sent me to wait on the end seat in the front row next to the steps to the low stage and left the hall.
Within a minute or so my dorm-mates were sent in to sit uncomfortably next to me. We waited for about ten minutes in the empty hall.
Rachel, who was sitting next to me, put my hand into hers and whispered for me to “Do your best” and not to worry how I took it. “Everybody finds a caning hard, especially the first time. Nobody will think the worse of you whatever happens. Main thing is, no matter what else you do, hold on as if your life depends on it.”
I nodded but could not find the stomach to reply.
The minutes ticked by. I wished both in turn that time would stop, and then that I could just get this over with, but time of course moves at its own imperturbable rate.
Then suddenly the door at the back opened. Miss Findhorn and another teacher (Mrs Anderson, who was head of the sixth form) went on to the stage.
I knew why Mrs Anderson was there; she would hold me down if I didn’t manage it myself. Rachel had told me that the rule was; stand up or put your hand back the first time and one gets an additional stroke and the original again (as Amy received in the dorm); the second time you got held down, and receive the original stroke plus two more. For me that meant four strokes could become a maximum of nine; something I desperately wanted to avoid.
Before everyone started to sit down, Miss Findhorn announced that all those who were (like me) new entrants to the school were to sit in the front or second row. There were about 150 (70-80 in each year) in the sixth form, of which there were about a dozen new girls. I had been getting to know some of them quite well and felt a deeper embarrassment at the forthcoming prospect.
The hall quietened and Miss Findhorn spoke. “Last night I came back to the school and a saw a light on in one of your dorms. Now while a little chatting on a Friday after lights out is not in my book an especially serious matter in the sixth form, I found in the dorm in question that a drunken party was ensuing.”
“This is, as you all know, entirely unacceptable behaviour in this school. This morning I have had the distasteful job of caning five girls for their part in arranging the party and consuming alcohol last night.”
She pointed to the front row. “You five stand up and turn around.”
My friends stood and turned to face our peers. Both Amy and Caroline seemed to be crying again.
“Each of your colleagues here has received four strokes, and I assure you that none of them found the experience pleasant. I do not like caning young ladies in the sixth form but…”
The rest of the lecture was a repeat of the dangers of drinking on school premises and that sixth formers should set an example that we had heard in our dorm this morning.
I was still sitting and squirming as Miss Findhorn came to my part.
“There is of course the question of how the bottle was acquired and got on to the school premises. Joanna Black, stand up and come here onto the stage. The rest of you can sit down.”
As my dormmates carefully sat down again. I reluctantly got up and climbed the four steps at the side onto the stage. As I walked across to her I could see the cane lying on the table beyond. My stomach gave another nasty twist.
I stood fairly near the Head and turned to face the audience. As Rachel had told me to do I clamped my hands on my head. At least I did not have to worry about my pose in a position where it is impossible not to be self-conscious. With the entire sixth form in the hall it was fairly full, and there were half a dozen teachers (all female, thank goodness) standing at the back.
“Joanna is one of the new students we have welcomed directly into our sixth form. Last Saturday she deceived our local shopkeeper, Mrs Wilson, into serving her a bottle of vodka and then smuggled it into school for this ‘party’ in their dorm. While she has courageously admitted this it is still a matter the school must take extremely seriously. Taking into account she is new and been honest in admitting her guilt she also will get four strokes of the cane, which she will receive in front of you now.”
I found myself looking at my fellow ‘newbies’ as she said this. One or two looked rather appalled but most looked on almost excitedly. I guess they had all had the concept of an assembly caning explained over breakfast, so there was little surprise, other than of course seeing what they had heard described actually happen. I suppose I might have found it exciting in a macabre sort of way if it were not for the fact that I was the unfortunate participant providing the ‘entertainment’.
Miss Findhorn paused and I heard, and could just see out of the corner of my eye, a chair being moved in position by the other teacher.
As soon as it was in position Miss Findhorn addressed me. “Miss Black, you know what to do.”
The chair faced the audience and I walked behind it and faced everyone. Shrugging off my blazer I passed it to Mrs Anderson and then, taking a deep breath bent over the wooden back and grabbed the front legs as low as I could.
The ritual, which can only have been designed to maximise the fear in the victim, continued. Miss Findhorn came across to me. I felt myself shiver as she first lifted my skirt and tucked the back hem into the waistband. The skirt was fairly loose in design but I still felt the fabric of the hem ride up slightly on my thighs at the front.
I grimaced as I felt her gently take the waist elastic on my underwear and felt a tear fall on the chair seat in front as with a swift movement she pulled them to my knees from where they dropped freely to my ankles. I am sure I heard a gasp from some of my sixth form colleagues at presumably the sight of my white knickers falling down my calves to my ankles through the chair legs.
Miss Findhorn moved away and there was a small rattle as she picked up the stick from the table and then her footsteps sounded in my ear as she came back.
It was very close to happening now. I felt a chill tingle of anticipation.
A swish – panic – no it was an ‘air shot’ – some brief relief. Then again, another – the suspense was awful.
Then I felt the gentle tapping. Opening my eyes I could see her skirt and legs as she stood behind me to my left. I knew that there were going to be no more cuts of the cane through the air alone.
I remembered Rachel’s description of what happens if you stood up twice and needed to be held down. In my case Mrs Anderson would be sitting in the seat I was bent over and I would be pulled in to her lap meaning my exposed rear would be facing the audience rather than the stage back. One humiliation I definitely wished to avoid. As a result I concentrated all my efforts on gripping the chair legs as tightly as I could. I could feel the wood at the corners of the square profile of the legs pressing against my palms.
The tapping stopped. I waited. Then it came: A swish, then crack, a line of pain seared my bottom seemingly increasing in intensity all the time. I had resolved not to cry out, but the sheer shock was too much.
“O-o-h,” I gasped loudly.
It took all my resolve not to jump up. “Keep your hands clamped,” I thought repeatedly through the pain. Dully I sensed that the rod was gently tapping again. Miss Findhorn was clearly in no hurry.
A second hum followed by the inevitable crack.
Although the pain was worse than the previous one I was able to hold my voice and only a desperate gasp escaped me. I am not sure if that would have been the case if I’d got my punishment in the dorm, but with so many watching there was an extra determination on my part not to embarrass myself.
However, with such a vicious cane, the pain just keeps building with no respite. I kept taking breaths as I waited for the third stroke.
With another hum and crack it landed harder and lower on my backside. Despite my resolve another “O-o-oh” escaped my lips. I also felt tears tickling from my eyes.
But I felt I was surviving. Only one to go I thought desperately, as long as I hold on, no getting up until told to. Also I had been warned, and of course seen proof, that the last stroke was always the worst. I could hear myself moaning and slightly wriggling my legs as the cane tapped the lowest part of my hind quarters. Probably something shorter girls would not have been able to do.
“Keep still girl, unless you want an extra!” I heard Miss Findhorn order angrily. Through the pain I made an effort to lock my knees and waited.
It was not long.
I was too wrapped up in my pain to hear the hum, but the crack I certainly did. The stroke felt like it was cutting my legs off. My resolve not to scream broke as I threw my head back and shouted in agony. The trickle of tears became a torrent. I nearly jumped up but just had enough self-control to remain in position.
Miss Findhorn then walked slowly over to the table and put the cane down (according to my friends; my attention was on nothing but the pain in my rear end).
Then I felt my knickers being gently pulled up and I gasped as they slid over my outraged buttocks. My skirt was loosened and fell into place. After that, at last I was permitted to stand, but again with my hands on my head.
As I stood facing the audience, seeing essentially nothing, Miss Findhorn embarked on another of her lectures about how unpleasant a caning is before dismissing them. My dorm-mates were told to remain seated.
Once the hall was cleared she finally let me drop my hands, which went straight to my agonised rear.
I somehow managed another apology and she remarked that I had taken that pretty well for a first timer, then warned us all she would be more severe if we were foolish enough to incur her wrath again.
We all oddly enough thanked her before my friends escorted me, still tear stricken, along the corridors back to our dorm.
As soon as we were in I flopped face down on my bed and wept again. Rachel I remember was the one who got the cold cream out and gently removed my pants to put it on.
It took over an hour before I felt like moving to face the world, going to the bathrooms to clean myself up.
The rest of the morning was supposed to be free study, but no one inquired whether we were doing any as we lay talking quietly in our dorm. Rachel and Becky both thanked me for not telling the Head about their roles in the import of the vodka, something that made me feel somewhat better.
In the aftermath there was a lot of interest from the others in the lower sixth about what had happened, but we were all less than forthcoming, and soon things settled down, other than a few comments of course when changing for sports allowed them a view of the angry lines that took well over a week to disappear.
I walked on eggshells the week following, given I was ‘on report’ and managed to escape without further inflictions of pain.
Three weeks after, I finally returned to Mrs Wilson’s shop to apologise and purchase my unwanted order.
Another dose of embarrassment as I had to carry the dreaded rod back to school and then through the corridors to the dorm. Despite being wrapped there was no doubt as to what it was, of course.
At half term I found out that the conversation between my father and Miss Findhorn had discussed suspension and, if this was the sort of behaviour I was going to have in the future, the prospect of expulsion was mentioned. My mother admitted later that my father was never at his best being woken at seven in the morning and probably spoke a little hastily in deciding to give me another dose, but he had told Miss Findhorn and therefore did not go back on it.
I got my thrashing, four strokes again, more or less as soon as I got home, bent over the back of the sofa in my knickers. They were nowhere near as bad as those at school; although not needing to control myself I admit I did not take them anywhere near as quietly!
That was the only time I got caned at home, and ironically Miss Findhorn’s recommended tool for domestic discipline had far more “impact” on my two little brothers!
At school I reverted to type and, although even in the sixth form it seemed impossible not to avoid the odd slippering, and once a hand caning (which as Amy said is probably stroke-for-stroke worse), I never experienced Miss Findhorn’s special cane again.