This memory goes back to the early 1960s. I can’t remember the time of year; only the fact that I was wearing shorts – but that’s really no indicator as back then, many boys were kept in short trousers pretty much all year round until quite an advanced age.
I was five at the time this happened, with a three-year-old sister. Times were hard, and both food and money were scarce.
For some reason, that day I decided to test my mother. I did so despite the fact that Mum was already regularly smacking my bottom. I don’t remember myself, but I’m told that spankings started for me when I was only two or three years old. I got this information from my sister, who must have asked Mum at some point about discipline during our childhoods.
This pushing or testing of my mum’s patience was something I would do quite frequently for some reason, even though I knew what the consequences would be. Perhaps I just wanted the attention, even if the result was a sore little bottom!
We were all (my dad as well) sat at the dining table, an old brown wooden one – there wasn’t a lot else in the dining room. It was all pretty sparse but, as I say, times were hard. The war, and rationing, were really not that far behind us at that point.
I was playing with my food – really, just messing around with my meal. Particularly because of our circumstances, this didn’t go down well at all with Mum. She told me to stop messing and to eat my food. Being in a testing sort of mood, I pushed my luck. I was warned again – only this time, I was told that if I didn’t eat my food properly, I would be getting my bottom smacked and put in my sister’s high chair.
For most children in those days, just that threat would have been enough to make them behave. However, for some reason I thought it might actually be fun to be put in my sister’s high chair, so I continued down the slippery slope.
Finally, Mum had had enough. She put her hands under my armpits and hauled me out of my chair. Swapping places, she parked her own bottom there and put me over her lap in the traditional position for naughty children.
Once I was there, she pulled down my shorts and underpants, and gave me the bare bottom spanking she rightly considered I deserved. She only used her hand but the smacking was long and hard, and soon had me crying and bawling.
In the end, albeit with a sore bum, I got what I was after. After Mum had finished smacking me, Dad lifted my sister out of her high chair and I was placed there instead, minus my shorts and pants which had come off during my smacking. Once there, I found my new seat quit uncomfortable, as the hard wood hurt my sore bottom.
Mum then told me that if I carried on misbehaving, it would be worse next time. I knew she wasn’t kidding, as she was a firm believer in the cane. Yes, as harsh as it may seem, both my sister and I were caned from the age of three. That was how our mother did it, and it was her way and belief. So I settled down and ate the rest of my food in a chastened manner.
To make matters worse, a short while later a neighbour came round with their children, and they saw where I was sat. They asked why I was in the high chair like a baby, so mum told them the truth. “Francis has been a naughty boy. He’s had his bare bottom smacked and because he acted like a baby, he’s been put in the high chair like a baby, too.”
I suppose the strange thing was that despite my sore bum, being in that chair still didn’t feel like a punishment, as it was something I had wanted, albeit somewhat perversely. However, being discovered bare by the neighbour and her children, and them being told I had had my pants taken down for a smacked bottom – well, that felt like a real punishment all right!