My parents didn’t smack very often – my sister and I were raised in the 80s, when spanking was becoming rather unfashionable – but occasionally they did take decisive action, if we were very disobedient.
One such incident which still sticks in my mind today is a day at the seaside in Paignton during our annual summer holidays. We were in a caravan, and up until this particular day, the weather had been foul, throwing it down with rain. Us kids (I was eight, my sister Emily was five) had naturally grown frustrated and bored with being cooped up, and my parents were tetchy too.
Then suddenly we had a day of sunshine and we could at last head down to the beach. We built sandcastles in the morning, then had some lunch in a restaurant, then went back down to the beach. Emily and I wanted to wade (in her case) and swim (in mine) in the sea but Mum said none of us could go into the water for an hour or two until our meal went down. We were put back to work on our sandcastles, but what had been delightful in the morning now seemed boring.
At some point, Mum and Dad got talking to the couple next to us, who were down there with their own three kids. The family was from my dad’s home town and they were all soon deep in conversation about mutual acquaintances and familiar locations.
I soon got very bored with all this, as children do, and I sneakily took Emily’s hand and led her down to the water. But it was hardly up to our ankles when we heard a huge screech of rage right behind us and Mum grabbed an arm each. She marched us back up to where the two families were sitting and she was red in the face with anger.
“Didn’t I tell you two not to go in the water yet? Didn’t I? Didn’t I? Why must you always disobey me?”
Without wasting another word – or waiting for either of us to answer that rhetorical question – she drew Emily to her, slipped the straps of her bathing suit off her shoulders and pulled it completely down to her ankles, revealing her bare bottom. Then she tucked my sister under her left arm and began to smack the target. Emily was well spanked for her trouble and her bum was a deep red by the time Mum had done with her.
Normally, I would have been smug and glad to see Emily having her bum smacked – especially bare and in front of all these strangers on the beach – only I knew with dead certainty that I was going to be Mum’s next customer.
I wasn’t wrong. She finally released my now-wailing sister, who immediately clutched her newly-smacked bum in her hands, and I was grabbed hold of for my own dose of maternal discipline. Baring my bottom was an easier job, as I only had trunks on, and I was soon naked and under Mum’s arm, being thoroughly chastised.
The pain was bad enough but the humiliation was worse for me at that age, I think. I remember, through my tears, seeing other children and their parents looking at me. One dad was pointing at me, probably reminding the little boy beside him that the same could happen to him if he didn’t behave himself.
I seemed to be under Mum’s arm, being smacked, for a lifetime but I suppose it was barely a minute. Nevertheless, I had a good sore bottom and both Emily and I suffered further embarrassment because the tanning Mum had administered went well below the line of our swimming outfits, so everyone on the beach knew without a doubt that we had been naughty children and had been soundly spanked.
Looking back, I can’t blame Mum for what she did, as anything could have happened if we had gone into the water unsupervised.