My birth mother died when I was just six years old, and for the next three years it was just me and Dad. Because we had both been through a lot, I guess it’s true to say that he indulged me a lot more than I would have normally been.
I have (very vague) memories of rarely having my bottom smacked by my mum when I was little, and I believe I got smacked by Dad too a couple of times when I was really naughty, but after Mum’s death spankings ceased all together.
Then Dad met and married Jean, my stepmother. At the time of their meeting, Jean was deputy head at a private school in the south of England but on marrying dad she gave up her job (as women did at the time, this was the early 60s) to look after us both full time.
For the first three months of her moving in, I think Jean went quite easy with me, again knowing what I had been through. However, there was a distinct air of discipline in the house for the first time, and I was told to call her ‘mother’. My new stepmum laid down new rules about bedtimes and curfews, and insisting on me doing homework before any recreational activity.
Unfortunately, I started to rebel badly against this new regime. I think part of me was testing my stepmum’s boundaries. Dad occasionally argued for her to go a bit easier on me, but he was in the first flush of romance and wasn’t about to do anything to endanger his new marriage.
It all came to a head one Friday evening when instead of coming straight home from school, as I was supposed to, I went back to a friend’s house with her to listen to records for a while. When I finally got home, I found my dinner in the oven and my stepmum at around the same temperature.
I naturally got the third degree about where I had been, and I admit I was insolent in my responses. Dad looked very uncomfortable at this whole scene.
“Well, Joy,” Mother concluded, “I think enough is enough. It’s high time you had a little discipline put back in your life, and as soon as you have finished eating, we will see about doing just that.”
“Please, Jean…” my father began but Mother interrupted him. “Derek, we’ve talked about this. A little bit of discipline will do her no harm; in fact, it will do her a great deal of good.” My dad slumped back into silence.
My mouth was about as dry as the food as I tried to eat my dinner, and eventually I had to admit defeat and put my knife and fork down. “Finished?” Mother inquired. “Right, then – let’s get this over and done with, Joy. Come with me.”
Mother took me by the hand and led me to my parents’ bedroom. My new mum had brought several pieces of her own furniture with her when she moved in and among these was a chaise longue, which had been placed in the bedroom. Mother placed me at the lower end of this, then went to her wardrobe.
When she turned around, to my horror I saw she was holding a school cane. “Please, Mother,” I blurted out, “not the cane…” “Don’t be silly, Joy – millions of children have had the cane and it’s done them a great deal of good.” “But I don’t want it…!” “I’m sure you don’t, and in future, you will know that there is a simple way to avoid this, and that is to behave yourself.”
By now, Mother was standing by my side, and she said in a kinder voice: “Come along – let’s get this over with, shall we? Take down your knickers and turn up your skirt.” “Please, Mother…” “Joy, any more nonsense and I will add an extra stroke.” I reached up my skirt clumsily and took down my thick blue school knickers, then I hitched up my grey pleated skirt.
Mother pointed to the arm of the chaise, and said: “Bend over, please.” It was the first time I had been bare bottomed in front of my new mum and it was even more embarrassing to know that she could clearly see my fanny from the back too.
“Now then – you will receive six of the best. You may cry, but there is to be no screaming or carrying on – is that clear?” “Yes, Mother.” I had to concentrate very hard on this last command as the cane was laid squarely across my bare buttocks for the first stroke. It hurt like nothing I had ever experienced before, and there was a deep, penetrating pain that went right into my bum.
Mother gave me my first caning very efficiently and confidently. As I found out later, she had been authorised to use CP at her school and had whacked many a naughty boy or girl, although all these earlier customers were more fortunate than I, in that it was either over trousers for boys or on the seat of their knickers for girls.
The only thing to be said in favour of this ordeal was that it was, as Mother had promised me, quickly over with. And as a mother myself today, I still think that’s the chief thing to be said in favour of corporal punishment.
Once I had been given my caning, I was sent to my room for half an hour, then allowed to rejoin Mother and my dad in the lounge. I was made to say sorry to them both, of course.
The caning marked a watershed in my behaviour, and far from resenting these punishments, they made me bond closely with my new mother. I can’t say I ever enjoyed being punished by her, but whenever she decided I needed another dose of the cane (and these continued until I was around 15), I went meekly as a lamb to be beaten.