The cowhide

In the late 1950s until the early 1960s, we lived in Uganda. We were not wealthy people and so while we lived in Scotland, we certainly never had any household servants, but in Kampala everyone did – so we had a housekeeper (Joyce), a younger maid (Jeanette) and, a couple of days a week, a woman called Mazzie who came to do the laundry.

There was also Heather, the 13-year-old daughter of Joyce, and she was at school. We lived in a pretty large house with a big garden. In the back of the house was the garage and a building with the maid’s rooms. Behind that were a few other outbuildings, including the wash house for the laundry.

I was 11 when we first went there and the idea of having all these servants was a really novel idea. I am sorry to say that I took to being very rude in talking to them – having the idea that you can do anything you like with a servant – and the idea that one could be really rude to a 50-year-old woman (Joyce) and order her around seemed great.

As I have indicated in other stories, my mother was strict and never hesitated to smack when she felt it necessary. At that time, it still was ‘smacking’ – bare bottom over her knee. It probably took not more than five minutes from beginning to end to give me a good smacking but it always seemed to go on for half an hour and I certainly used to make plenty of noise – yelling and screaming to begin with, then settling down to some serious crying.

Joyce in particular used to derive considerable satisfaction from mum’s technique and although for long enough I escaped her actually seeing it, it seemed she was never very far away and I often had to put up with her self-satisfied smirking when she saw me in tears following a smacking.

Eventually, she did get to see me on the receiving end. It happened one afternoon when I walked into the kitchen and Jeanette was standing at the sink, washing up the dishes. On a sudden impulse, I crept up behind her and flipped her dress up, getting a wonderful view of her chubby bottom encased in white knickers. She screamed and turned around, suddenly dropping the plate in her hands so that it smashed loudly on the floor. Then she burst into tears.

Joyce came rushing in to see what all the commotion was. She got Jeanette calmed down enough that she could tell her what had happened. She grabbed me by the arm and really shook me. I thought she was going to kill me but she dragged me off to the other end of the house where my mother was getting ready to go out.

My mother was just as furious as Joyce. She grabbed my other arm and, helped along by some good hard slaps on the face, I was dragged back to the kitchen where a tearful Jeanette was cleaning up the floor.

Now she knew perfectly well that what Joyce had said was true, but she insisted on getting the confirmation from Jeanette. Then she said: “Right, m’lad – you are really in for it” and she pulled out a kitchen chair. I realised that I was going to be smacked right then and there. I started to cry and tried to break free and run for it.

But Joyce still had a hold of my arm. She pulled me over beside where mum was sitting on the chair and held me there as mum unbuttoned my shorts and pulled them down round my ankles. My knickers (yes, navy blue school knickers) were pulled round my ankles and mum started. I said that five minutes seemed like half an hour – well, whatever that was, it seemed like an hour.

Jeanette just stood in open-mouthed amazement. Joyce, with grim satisfaction, assisted by holding my wrists firmly. When the smacking stopped and I was released, I literally fell off of mum’s knee and rolled over the kitchen floor, still crying and trying to rub the heat out of my bottom.

Mum got up, looked at her watch and snapped: “Now I am late.” She turned to Joyce and said: “He’ll spend the rest of the day in his bed – make sure he stays there.” And she marched out.

Joyce took a hold of me again, pulled me upright and dragged me off to my bedroom – very undignified as my knickers were still round my knees and falling down. In my bedroom, she pulled back the bedcovers and pushed me down on the bed. She pulled off my shoes and socks, yanked my knickers off then pulled my T-shirt over my head. She put the covers over me and walked out, locking the door behind her.

As she went out, she left me with the words: “It’s a damn good beating you need, not a spanking.” I had plenty of time to begin to wonder what exactly Joyce might mean by ‘a good beating’. I wasn’t accustomed to the word and I thought that the smacking I had just had went well beyond being just ‘good’.

As you may imagine, I eventually found out! A few days later, I brought the question up with Heather. Thankfully, she had not been there when I had been smacked in the kitchen. But she heard about it and teased me for crying for a ‘botty spanking like a baby’. I told her she would have cried too.

I then asked her if Joyce smacked her and her answer was to laugh and say: “She don’t give no spankings, she beat you so you feel it – with the cowhide.” Of course, I insisted on details especially to know what the ‘cowhide’ was. In the end, she actually showed it to me – she took me way out the back of the garage to the wash house and it was there, hanging on a nail on the wall.

It was like a Scottish tawse, but without tails. It was maybe 30in long, maybe 3in wide and heavy. Like a tawse, it was made of hard, stiff leather – you could almost hold it out straight. I was at the same time repelled and fascinated – I shivered just at the thought of that thing landing on my bottom. At the same time, I wondered what it would be like – and I wondered what it would be like to see Heather getting it.

She seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing – when I asked he how many she got, she airily said: “Oh, two or three dozen.”

Not long after that, I happened to overhear a conversation between Jeanette and Joyce. My attention was drawn by the word ‘beating’” So I hung around, listening outside the door.

It seemed that the washing woman, Mazzie, had seen Heather ‘streaking’. In fact, I had been involved with that as we had dared each other to run around the garage completely undressed. Somehow, I had not been seen – but Heather had.

Anyway, Joyce’s final word was: “It’s high time that girl got a good beating, she’ll make a trip to the wash house this evening.” I had two immediate thoughts in mind – first of all, to get to Heather first to try to make sure that she didn’t tell about my involvement, and the other was that this could be an opportunity to find out what a good beating with the cowhide was like.

I managed to intercept Heather before she got back to the house and told her what I had heard. She kind of contemptuously told me that she wouldn’t tell, but she was clearly not as nonchalant about the prospective beating as she had pretended before.

After dinner, I kept a close eye on where everybody was. Eventually, I saw Joyce and Heather leave the house and head off to the back towards the wash house, and I followed along.

Evidently, Heather did keep her word and didn’t implicate me – she had come up with the completely lame excuse that she was hot. Joyce kept up a constant stream of comments on that. “Hot, were you? I’ll make you hot. Let’s see if we can make your botty hot like fire.”

They went into the wash house and closed the door. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see anything as there were no windows, but I certainly heard everything. She got 22 strokes and they were hard. Heather didn’t scream, she grunted with each of the first few, then she moaned and by about number 10 she was crying.

When Joyce was done, she marched back to the house, leaving Heather to calm herself. I sneaked in and Heather was tearfully dabbing her bottom with a wet cloth. I was amazed to see her bottom – anybody who thinks black bottoms don’t show marks is dead wrong – they do. As well as the welts, the skin had been broken in a few places and there was a little bit of bleeding.

I really felt sorry for her. I told her I was sorry for being the cause of her beating – she told me I should be sorry – and if life was fair, I would have had the same. I really did feel guilty and after I had gone to bed that night, I found myself being drawn with a kind of fascination towards the idea of having such a beating myself.

The next day was a Saturday and my mum was away. With Heather, I kept bringing the conversation back to the beating and I told her that it really should have been me who got it instead of her. She agreed, of course – and I asked her if she thought Joyce would have given it to me as well if Mazzie had seen me. Heather was getting a bit fed up with it all and eventually told me to either shut up or go and ask Joyce myself.

Eventually, I decided to do it. I hung around outside the kitchen for about an hour, trying to pluck up the courage to do it. I almost gave up and was on the point of walking away, when Joyce suddenly turned and snapped at me: “What are you hanging around here for, boy? Do you want something?”

So I just came straight out with it: “Joyce, I wanted to tell you something. I am really sorry; it wasn’t Heather’s fault. It was me. I did it too. I know you beat her and it wasn’t fair. It should have been me getting the beating. Please don’t tell my mum.”

She was taken aback by this flood. She slowed me down and step by step got the whole story and realised that I was confessing. Her initial reaction was: “Well, I think we’ll just lock you in your room for the day and see what your mammy has to say when she gets home.”

Now, that was certainly not my plan and so I begged her not to tell mum. I came right out and asked if she would please smack me herself.

She snorted: “I don’t smack and I don’t spank – I’d take the cowhide to you and take the skin off your botty.” After a bit, it dawned on her that I was asking for a beating, that she could actually do it and that she would actually love to do it – and so we set off out to the wash house.

I was so nervous at this point that my knees were like jelly and I could hardly walk, so she had to pull me along. Once in the wash house, she glared at me. “Get these pants off!” I stumbled my way out of my shorts and stood there in a short T-shirt and the navy blue school knickers.

She pushed me around to face away from her, grabbed the waistband and drew them down to my knees. “I don’t think you’ll be needing these panties.”

She grasped my left wrist, took the cowhide down from the wall and landed the first stroke. My knees gave way with the shock of it and I fell. I was pulled up again and got another.

She soon got tired of that and hoisted me up on to the big wash boiler with my head almost inside and my legs hanging down the side. Like that, she could hold me in place with her left hand while she swung the cowhide with the other.

And did she lay it on – it was nothing like a smacking – it really was a thorough beating. I didn’t grunt and moan like Heather, I screamed as loud as I could, but eventually just couldn’t scream any more and I just cried.

Once she was done she hung up the strap, took me down from the wash boiler and sarcastically patted my cheek and said: “Now you know! Don’t forget it – there is plenty more where that came from!” And she left me to try to recover.

Heather sneaked in a little later and sympathised with me. She wiped me down – I was even more welted than she had been. She told me I had been given 29 strokes, so I had the same as her, plus a ‘bonus’.

When I made my way back to the house, Joyce regarded me with grim amusement. She said: “Let’s have a look at that botty” and turned me round, slipping down my shorts and knickers.

She tut-tutted at the sight, then she told me that the best cure was ‘fresh air’. She took my shorts and knickers off and I had to spend the rest of the day going around in just my little T-shirt, like the tiny kids in the villages.

Contributor: Anonymous

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