I was just approaching nine years old and had finished my second year at prep school. My brother had gone off to scout camp but I was deemed too young to join the wolf cub camp that year. Instead, I was invited to spend the first week or so of the summer holidays with a school friend, Ian Gibbs.
I got home just long enough to pick up a case of ‘home clothes’ my mother had packed for me and Mrs Gibbs then drove me and Ian over to their home (which wasn’t very far from ours), getting there in time for lunch.
It was a dismal day, with the rain coming down in sheets, so we boys were effectively confined to the house under instructions from Mrs Gibbs to ‘play quietly – how about a board game, perhaps?’
Well, we tried a board game or two but we were looking for something more exciting than Cluedo.
After a while, we had run out of nine-year old conversation, tried cards, dominoes – not really quite the thing. Then Ian suggested ‘shipwrecks\.
The object of this game was to go round a room without touching the floor? Well, one is supposed to take off shoes and use things like magazines on the floor as stepping stones (in the polite game) but we didn’t stop to think of that. Plenty of chairs, sofas, even a stoutish bookcase to cling to… We were having fun – very noisy fun, it has to be said.
A couple of times, we heard Mrs Gibbs call out ‘boys – keep that noise down!’ but barring a minute or two straight after such commands, we didn’t really pay much heed.
The crunch (literally) came when Ian decided to get past a doorway by swinging on the door – only he swung a bit too far and crashed into a side table. Nothing was broken, thank goodness, but it made an awful racket – which brought in Mrs Gibbs, not looking very happy.
“How many times have I told you two to be quiet? Now look what you have done! Ian – go to your room right now and you, young man” – she looked straight at me – “you stay right here. I will be down shortly.” With that, she followed her son upstairs.
Well, I knew I was in trouble. Big trouble and no matter how I tried to persuade myself otherwise, I couldn’t but admit I was quite as guilty as Ian and we had both, without a doubt, been more than a little naughty.
I had never asked Ian what happened when he was naughty at home (we knew about school – we were both hardened criminals, well used to treading the path to the housemaster’s study at bedtime for three quick whacks of the cane) but it dawned on me that I was about to find out.
I had my suspicions that it was not just a telling-off heading my way. I didn’t dare move from the chair that had been indicated to me but I listened.
The doors must have been open because I could hear brief muffled voices, mostly that of Mrs Gibbs, with a ‘sorry’ or two from Ian. Then, after a moment or two silence, I heard what I had been dreading – the unmistakeable sounds of a spanking.
Prep-school training kicked in and I counted the smacks – we were a quite heartless bunch of hooligans and took great delight in noting ‘how many’ our classmates got on these occasions. I counted 15.
My spirits rose a little. Fifteen smacks with her hand over my shorts wouldn’t be so bad – they couldn’t be. I had collected the occasional smack over shorts at school and they were nothing much to worry about, nothing like as bad as the cane over pyjamas.
I heard a door shut upstairs and Mrs Gibbs coming downstairs. When she came back into the living room, she just walked over to a straight chair (which she had to pick up from where we had knocked it over) and sat down.
To my dismay, I saw she was holding a rather large and ominous-looking bedroom slipper. Well, I knew from school that attempting to delay punishment was asking for further trouble so as soon as she sat down, I didn’t wait to be called over but went across and stood by her knee.
That walk seemed like walking through treacle! It was only perhaps three or four steps but it took a long time. Mrs Gibbs looked at me. I was trying to look brave but I didn’t feel brave. I just wanted to get it over with and I was dreading the lecture before the painful bit. But she just looked at me and said: “I see…”
Then her hands moved out and before I knew it, my shorts were round my ankles, followed quickly by my underpants. All I could think of was how painful that slipper might be on my bare bottom.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you realise you have just made totally the wrong decision and it is too late to change it? Well, it was one of those moments.
As Mrs Gibbs took hold of my wrist and pulled me across her lap, she said: “Now, young man – I wasn’t going to spank you (oh heck!) as you are a guest, but seeing as you seem to expect it, it’s only fair you got what Ian got.”
With that, she pushed the tail of my shirt up, placed a hand firmly in the small of my back and started to spank.
The first smack of the slipper stung – not quite as fierce as the cane, perhaps, but it still made me start and the second arrived before I had ‘readied’ myself, followed by the rest in rapid succession.
I didn’t keep count – I was too busy trying to hold back the tears I could feel forming, and it seemed like that spanking was never going to stop. But then suddenly it did and I was being lifted back on my feet and my underpants and shorts were being pulled up, just as I couldn’t hold back a sob any longer.
Mrs Gibbs marched me straight over to the sofa, sat me down, sat down beside me and put her arm round me while I gulped and sniffed and tried to stop the tears.
From somewhere, she had found a clean handkerchief (certainly not from my pocket!) which she used to dab at my tears. Once I had calmed down a little, she gently explained that I had been naughty but that she wasn’t really cross with me and anyway, it was all over now.
Then she leaned close and whispered in my ear. “And don’t worry about the tears. Ian cried too – but don’t let on you know.”
Somehow, that conspiratorial whisper cheered me up and when I looked up, Mrs Gibbs was smiling. A few minutes later, Ian came back in the room. Both of us saw each other’s tear-reddened eyes. We gave each other sheepish grins – then this time we did play quietly until we were called in to the dining room for tea.
Ian told me later that he reckoned we must have really pulled a classic one because his mother never normally spanked that hard or gave so many whacks. But I had a great deal of respect for that slipper after that!
When we were put to bed that night, Mrs Gibbs supervised us bathing. Then, after we had dried off, she turned me round, looked at my bottom and with a brief ‘you’ll survive’, gave it a rather firm pat. If I was being picky, you could call it a smack rather than a pat. It made me jump!
Then she told me to get my PJs on and hop into bed. I don’t remember her turning the light out!