I think I’d be about nine when Ginny and her family moved in next door to us. She was two years younger than me, and for the first couple of weeks, she was just ‘the little girl next door’. However, Ginny’s mum and my own soon became firm friends and the two mothers and two children started spending quite a bit of time together, in each other’s houses or gardens.
It was a hot summer night in the 1976, in the middle of the biggest drought Britain had ever experienced, when it happened. Everyone’s windows were wide open and tempers were fraying not a little. I’d already been spoken to quite sharply several times by my mum.
I was playing outside by myself, just after lunch, when I heard it. A commotion from inside Ginny’s house, her Dad shouting and his daughter crying, yelling and pleading. Then it happened. On the warm afternoon air came the unmistakeable sound of the little girl next door having her bottom soundly smacked, crying freely, while her dad shouted and lectured in between the slaps.
I knew what a smacked bottom sounded like – and felt like. I was not infrequently put over my own mum or dad’s knee for a good seeing to. Part of me felt sorry for Ginny – but part of me was excited as well.
The punishment didn’t last long. The slaps stopped, although the little girl continued to cry and sob for some time afterwards. But it was over almost as quickly as it began. I expected that to be the end of the matter, but to my surprise, Ginny and her mum came round for afternoon tea a little later.
Ginny was not her usual animated self, and there were undeniable tear stains still on her face. “Is something the matter, Alison?” my mum asked Ginny’s. “Oh, she had a smacked bottom off her dad about an hour ago,” the little girl’s mother replied. “She was told to clean up her bedroom and didn’t, so Daddy took her pants down and smacked her bare bum.”
“Oh dear!” my mum said, glancing kindly at the little girl. “I bet you wish you had obeyed Daddy now, don’t you, Ginny?” The little girl nodded glumly. “Well, hopefully you’ve learned your lesson. Why don’t you go outside with Justin and play in the garden?” We scuttled out, glad to be away from adult attention.
We kicked a ball about for a little while, then I told Ginny: “I heard you getting smacked. Did it hurt a lot?” She blushed and nodded silently again. She obviously didn’t want to continue the conversation – but I did. “Do you always get your knickers put down for it?” Ginny finally spoke, and found a little spirit. “Yes, and I bet you do too.” I did, but wouldn’t admit it. “I don’t get smacked very much at all these days,” I lied.
By now we were up the top of the garden in front of a large rhododendron bush. “Is your bum really sore?” “A bit.” “Show me!”
Ginny turned away from me, quickly raised her dress at the back and the seat of her knickers down. Her bum cheeks were more pink than red, so her dad hadn’t been as hard on her as I had judged from the sounds coming through the window.
“Justin!” I suddenly saw that my mum was halfway up the garden. For some reason, it never occurred to us that she might look out of the kitchen window and see what was happening.
“Ginny! Get those pants back up!” Mum turned to me. “What is the meaning of this?” My mouth was dry and I didn’t have an answer. “Come on – right now.” Mum took us each by the hand and marched us into the kitchen. Then she told Ginny’s mum what she had observed. She was horrified.
“You dirty little boy!” she shouted at me, “and as for you” – she turned to her daughter – “it seems Daddy didn’t spank you hard enough!” She turned to my own mother. “I told him he should have used the wooden spoon.”
“Well, we can put that right, right now,” Mum replied. She went to one of the kitchen drawers and extracted two large wooden cooking spoons. “One each,” she said, handing one of the spoons to Ginny’s mum.
The two women quickly arranged a couple of chairs so they were sat facing each other, their respective child on their right side. Ginny’s mum rolled up her skirt and slid down her knickers, while my mum made short work of my shorts and pants. Now both bare-bottomed, we were put across the parental lap and given a good two or three very hot minutes with those spoons.
I remember clearly the sharpness of Mum’s spoon across my bum. I managed to glance back a couple of times and see my little friend’s bare bottom being whacked efficiently too by her own mother, but mostly I remember seeing the white knee socks on Ginny’s legs scissoring up and down as she squealed and wriggled.
Once both mothers were satisfied we’d been punished enough, we were put with our noses in opposite corners of the kitchen, underpants still down in disgrace. The two women talked a bit more as they finished their tea, reminiscing a bit about the smacked bottoms they had had from their own mothers. Eventually, we were both given permission to ‘make yourself decent’ and Ginny left, still snivelling, with her hand firmly gripped in that of her mum.
I thought her a sissy at the time but looking back, I suppose she was entitled to cry more than I had. Not just being a girl, but for having her second smacked bottom of the day.