The house next door to us had been empty for some time before Mrs Ryan, our new neighbour, moved in. She seemed ancient to me but in retrospect, I guess she was only in her mid to late 40s.
Mrs Ryan lived on her own – I believe she was a widow – though occasionally her grown-up son would come to visit for a few days. She was a very keen gardener, and within a few months of moving in, she had transformed the overgrown plot of land at the back of her house into a very nice garden, with plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as flowers growing there.
One day, when I was about six years old, I was playing football by myself in our own garden when my foot caught the ball awkwardly and lofted it over the fence into Mrs Ryan’s. Now, the house had been empty for some time before she moved in, and I had been used to simply climbing over the wooden fence which separated the two properties and retrieving it.
I did think twice for a second at this point but Mrs Ryan’s car wasn’t in her driveway and I assumed she had gone out. I therefore climbed the fence to go and grab my ball. I was a bit clumsier than usual and one of the lap wood panels broke as I climbed down into my new neighbour’s garden. The ball itself had gone right into the far top corner of Mrs Ryan’s and there was a bare patch of soil between me and my property. I hastily ran over this to grab the ball.
When I turned round to return to my own garden, it was a big shock to see my new neighbour standing there, hands on hips, her face sour with a look of deep disapproval.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” “I…I was getting…” I stammered but I was interrupted in my reply. “I’ll tell you what you were doing, young man – entering my garden without permission, breaking my fence and trampling over my carrots! What do you think your mother will have to say about all that?” I tried to reply but again I was interrupted. “Well, let’s see, shall we?” She took my hand firmly in hers. “Come along! You can leave your ball here – you’re not going to be needing it for a while.”
Without further ado she marched me down the side of her house then up my own driveway, where she rang the bell. My mum answered the door and Mrs Ryan explained briefly what had happened. Mum’s face turned to thunder and she said: “You’d better come in, both of you.”
We all went through to our lounge, where Mum and Mrs Ryan sat down and I was made to stand before them like a defendant in court, while Mrs Ryan went through my crimes in more detail. Finally Mum said: “Well, it sounds as if someone needs his bottom smacked.” Mrs Ryan nodded approvingly: “Yes, I believe he does.”
I blushed deeply at a stranger hearing I would be spanked but then Mum made it a hundred times worse. “Well, Mrs Ryan, since it’s your garden he damaged, I think I’ll let you carry out the sentence of the court. I’m sure you’ve smacked a naughty boy’s bottom before now.” “Indeed I have!” Mrs Ryan replied. “Come here to me, young man!”
With feet that felt like lead, I approached my neighbour nervously. She shuffled forward on the sofa a little so she was sitting on the edge, then he rolled up one sleeve of her blouse, revealing a muscular-looking right arm.
Then, before I knew what was happening, Mrs Ryan put her hands inside both the elastic of my football shorts and my underpants and lowered them both firmly to my knees. I was now truly appalled – Mum never smacked me bare bottom, although I had heard rumours of other boys who got it that way.
I didn’t have time to protest because a fraction of a second later, I was over her knee and getting that bare bum of mine thoroughly spanked. Mrs Ryan smacked a lot harder than Mum did, and the heightened sting of having nothing between her palm and my buttocks made me quickly dissolve into tears.
When at last I found myself on my feet again, Mrs Ryan quickly grabbed my hand and marched me – hobbling with my clothes still down – over to an empty corner of the room. There she made me face the wall and ordered me to place my hands on my head. This done, she tugged my shorts and pants right down to my ankles and rolled up my shirt at the back to thoroughly show off my newly-smacked bottom.
Mum went into the kitchen for a moment to make a cup of tea and as they sat drinking, they chatted amiably about the importance of discipline. “I don’t normally take his pants down for it but it seems to have done him a lot of good,” Mum said. “Oh, I always smacked David bare bottom,” Mrs Ryan replied, “it’s the best way to make sure they learn their lesson.” “Well, that’s how he’ll be getting it from now on, I can assure you,” Mum replied, “it seems to have made a big impression on him.” It had, believe me!
The ball was confiscated for a month and even when Mrs Ryan brought it back for me, I could still hardly look her in the eye, knowing what she had seen when she spanked me. She made me promise that if I needed to retrieve it again, I would knock on her door first and get permission. You can be sure I obeyed that rule!