In my junior school in the late 50s, corporal punishment was in use for various offences, by all the teachers, but the most feared punishment was to be sent to the Headmistress, whose reputation and right arm were renowned far and wide.
One of the clearest memories I have of her is the day that I fell off the wall. In a secluded part of the playground was a low wall, only about 18in high, and a favourite game was for one person to stand on the wall with his or her back to a post, and for others to try to come along the wall and dislodge the defender. Naturally, this game was forbidden but we played it anyway.
On this day, a girl called Julia was defending and I was next in line to try. Somehow Julia overbalanced me and I fell face down onto the tarmac floor. Although I put out my hands, my face struck the floor as well as my hands and I grazed a good part of my cheek and both palms. As I cried out, a teacher came around the corner (what happened to the lookout, I don’t know) and saw what had occurred.
The others scattered as Julia and I were marched indoors to the office. Iodine was briskly applied to my grazes and then we were placed outside the Headmistress’s office to await our fate. We were summoned in and the facts quickly established.
Although Julia had pushed me off the wall we were both adjudged equally guilty, which was fair enough. The fact that I had been injured and was in pain from that was dismissed as irrelevant. That the whole school had been warned to cease this game a week or so previously was forcefully pointed out to us – so as well as being punished for the game, we were to be punished for defiance as well!
The Headmistress then produced her slipper, (this being a black gym shoe with a thick rubber sole, not some lightweight carpet affair!) and ordered us both to bend down, and ‘touch toes’. Six or eight hard whacks followed, we were told to rise and informed that our defiance was yet to be dealt with.
We were then made to bare our bottoms and bend down again, and she then delivered about eight further whacks to our throbbing behinds. We stood in the corner crying for an hour, were given notes for our parents and ordered back to class.