When I was growing up in Dublin in the 1960s, spanking, caning and strapping were a fact of life. Most boys I knew got it, even if few of us would admit it.
While I got my fair share at home and school, the occasion I remember best was at a neighbours’ house, where a pillow fight with the two eldest boys Brian (14) and David (10) and their second sister Anne (12) went horribly wrong. One pillow burst, sending thousands of feathers all over the room.
We stared at the feathers in horror then frantically tried to gather them up. We had gathered up a lot of feathers but the elder sister Marie, who was about 17 at the time, walked in before we could hide the evidence. Anne, Brian and David were appalled at being discovered.
Marie told Brian and David to stand on the landing outside the bathroom while she sent Anne off to get their father’s slipper. Marie offered me the choice of going home to be dealt with there or to join the others. Fearing my parents’ anger, I stammered at the awful choice. “Very well,” she said “you can join the other three on the landing.”
Anne was holding the slipper for Marie when I joined the miserable line-up, The slipper was not new but had a heavy rubber sole. Marie took it and summoned David into the bathroom, closing the door.
We strained our ears to hear his fate, waiting an age, then all jumped with horror at the first whack followed by a yelp. Another long wait, then another whack and yelp – we could hear David beginning to blubber before the third wallop and he was yelping and wailing almost continuously after four. Still Marie did not stop, but delivered two more really sharp whacks.
David emerged, very red in the face, and ran howling to his bedroom carrying his trousers and underpants “Oh God,” moaned Anne “She’s giving it on the bare!”
Marie called Anne in and repeated the procedure. First the long wait, which we now knew meant she was pulling down the child’s knickers, then the walloping. Anne’s yelps were higher pitched and she begged for mercy, but Marie completed the six before releasing her in turn to her bedroom.
Brian went very pale as he went in, then there was the same routine which I now knew all too well. I was in an agony of terror and mortified at the prospect of what was to come, and how. Brian re-emerged, red-faced, shaking, and scuttled off to join David in the boys’ room.
I waited for the call. The landing was silent except for the muffled noise from the three miscreants behind the bedroom doors. I waited and waited.
Finally, Marie called me through. She was sitting on a low bath stool with the slipper beside her. “Close the door,” she said. I did.
“I have been rather looking forward to this, you know – are you sure you want it here rather than at home?” “Here,” I mumbled. “Good,” she said. “Now, you will obey me precisely or it will be the worse for you – understand?” “Yes, Marie.” “What you did was very naughty and irresponsible, so you must learn a lesson you won’t forget.”
Then: “Pull down your pants!” I did as told. “Now the underpants.” I was horrified at having to expose myself in this way but jerked them down just the same. “Now, lie across my knee with your hands on the floor in front of you.” I shuffled forward and went across her skirted knee as indicated. I knew that my bare bottom was presenting a superb target but could do nothing except hope for it to be over quickly.
However, Marie was in no hurry. I heard her pick up the slipper but instead of going to work at once, she patted the cheeks of my bottom in turn, lightly, as if she was sizing me up. The waiting was unbearable.
The patting stopped. She seemed to take a deep breath, then walloped the slipper down on my right cheek. I was astonished at the force and pain she could deliver and yelped, just as the others had done. Again, she sized me up patiently, waited for me to stop wriggling then…deep breath, wallop! Left side.
My bottom was stinging and burning at the same time. “Stay still unless you want extra.” I grasped at the floor, went rigid and took the next wallop right on top of the first. “You deserve every bit of this, you know.” “Yes, Marie,” I blubbered.
Whack! Left cheek again, then another long miserable wait for the third wallop on the right. She really took her time before delivering the last one. “If I have to do this again, you will get the cane – do you understand?” “Yes, Marie” Wallop! I was blubbering like a baby, consumed by the pain of the sting and the burning sensation in my bottom.
She instructed me to stand up, which I did with some difficulty, pulling my shirt tail over my bottom. “No point doing that after what I have seen and done, is there?” she said with a smile.
Marie got up to leave the bathroom, then turned back at the door as I reached for my pants. “Don’t forget what I said about the next time, will you?” she said.