When I was growing up in South Africa, during the 1960s, the cane was in widespread use for corporal punishment. Not only was it used pretty freely in schools, but many families kept one at home for use on their children’s bottoms.
Up to about the age of maybe six or seven, most of us got a traditional spanking over our mother or father’s knee, mostly on bare bottoms. But when we got to a certain age – particularly boys – our discipline was mostly handed over to our fathers and the cane was very common.
I think it was favoured among white Boer families for a number of reasons. Firstly, we were geographically closer to the eastern than the western influence, both in terms of travel and trade. Huge amounts of goods from Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong were imported into ports like Durban every year and of course caning was, and remains, very popular with parents out there.
Secondly, the fact that the cane can hurt a great deal even through the seat of a child’s trousers appealed to the traditional Protestant morality. Taking a child’s underpants down to smack him when he is a little boy is one thing, but by the time the same boy is well into his elementary school years, many parents felt it indecent for him to have to show his bottom off for corporal punishment.
Although girls were not totally exempt from a sound smacking from their mothers, mostly it was boys who received corporal punishment. Most of my friends’ fathers kept a cane for their son and it was mostly administered in the same way – bending over, hands on knees, and usually six of the best across their trouser seat.
My own situation was slightly different. Firstly, my own family was British, with maybe fewer hangups about nudity than the Boers. Secondly, I grew up without a father, after he died in a mining accident when I was just two years old.
My mother kept a cane for me, all right – but in my case, it was not only the opposite parent sex inflicting the beating, but also on her son’s bare behind. If I had misbehaved, I would be summoned to my mother’s room. After some discussion of my sins, she would drag out the old chair she normally put her clothes out on at night before retiring, then I would be instructed to drop my trousers and pants, and bend over to be caned.
As with my friends’ dads, Mum thought the best ‘normal’ dose was six of the best, although this might be as much as doubled if I had really screwed up. After I had been beaten, I was sent to my room to think about what I had done for a while, but was allowed down later, provided I was suitably repentant.
One day, when I was 10, I had my classmate Marcus round to play. We ended up bouncing around on my bed, while trying to catch an old tennis ball. Mum had just come upstairs to see what the racket was when there was a crunching sound and Marcus found himself with one leg more or less on the floor. His foot had broken one of the wooden slats which held my mattress in place.
Mum went absolutely bananas, shouting at us both and holding us both equally responsible. “You both wait there!” she told us eventually, and went back downstairs. Eventually, we could hear her talking downstairs, presumably on the phone to Marcus’s mum or dad.
What we didn’t know until later, when Marcus had gone home, was that in that conversation, Mum had given Marcus’s dad the option of dealing with his own boy, ‘or we can deal with it here if you prefer’. Mum’s use of the plural pronoun was unusual, and Marcus’s father – who wasn’t au fait with our family position – must have assumed that I was to be punished by my own father. So he gave his permission for both boys to be done together.
Mum came back a few minutes later and put her head round the door. “I want to see both you boys in my room in five minutes’ time, please.” With a sinking heart, I realised that this meant a beating. I don’t know what Marcus was thinking at that moment, but we both sat there in silence, until I stood up and said to him: “Come on – we’d better go and get it over with.”
Marcus followed me up to the corridor to my mum’s room. The caning chair was pulled out ready and the instrument of correction lay on her bed. As we entered, I saw blind panic in Marcus’s eyes. Mum looked him straight back in the eye, adding: “Marcus, your father has given me permission to punish you. However, he has agreed with me that you needn’t be beaten again when you get home.”
She turned to us both generally and delivered a short but pointed lecture about hooliganism and breaking furniture. “Now,” she said, picking up the cane, “who wants to go first?” Much to surprise, Marcus put his hand up. “All right,” Mum responded. “Take down your trousers and pants, please Marcus, then bend over the back of that chair.”
“B-b-but Mrs Wilson,” my friend stammered, “Dad always lets me keep my trousers on.” “Well, I’m not your dad. Alan always gets the cane on the bare bottom, and that’s just the way things are in this house. You’ve got nothing in those pants I haven’t seen before, young man. Now, do as you are told, please!”
With a face now as red as a beetroot, Marcus undid his trousers and slid them down to his ankles. With extreme reluctance, he did the same with his underpants. I have always had a preference for boys and looked with interest at the healthy, creamy white bum with its dark cleavage.
Mum came up behind Marcus, put a firm hand on his lower back and tapped the cane experimentally against his bare bum. Then she raised it and brought it down with a firm ‘whack’. Considering the punishment probably hurt a great deal more than when his dad did it, lacking the benefit of clothing for padding, he took it extremely bravely, only crying out a couple of times. Mum gave him her usual six and although Marcus had been courageous, his eyes were watery when he stood back up, hastily drawing his clothing back over his bottom and private parts.
“Alan!” I needed no orders. I dutifully strode towards the chair, bared my bottom and bent over. Again, I felt Mum holding me down as she delivered an impressive beating which, unlike my friend, left me crying freely.
We were both sent to my room for a ‘think’ and immediately as we arrived, I took my pants back down to inspect the damage – six red hot lines across my bum, pretty good shooting. Eventually I persuaded Marcus to do the same and I was able to have another good look at his attractive backside. I remember running my finger gently over his tram lines, impressed as always by what such a light implement could do.
I believe there was a bit of a backlash when Marcus returned home, and his parents found out that he had been beaten bare bottom by an adult of the opposite sex. It was a long time before he was allowed to come to my house again, and when he was, both us boys were very careful about our behaviour, you may be sure!