From as early as I can remember, I was fascinated by corporal punishment. Any mention or depiction in a comic, nursery rhyme book or on television excited me, though of course I had no idea why. It’s all the more intriguing as I had very little practical experience beyond the occasional slap accompanying a ‘stop that!’ or ‘that’s enough!’ from a parent. And then I started to go to school…
My first school was a small, self-contained church-based infants school in the south of England. There were just four classes, one each for ages four/five to eight. All the staff were female and three of the four class teachers were young – two of them probably in their early 20s. The headmistress, Mrs C, was in her late 40s – but more of her in a moment.
My first memory of being at school is seeing a fellow pupil being pulled out of his chair and smacked on the clothed bottom three or four times, making him cry, and then being unceremoniously plonked back on his chair, still sobbing but with the teacher seemingly not caring about that. That was probably the first time I’d seen anything vaguely resembling an actual spanking – and it certainly made me resolve to behave!
However, it was almost impossible to avoid CP altogether. Rarely a day seemed to go by, through all the time I was at that school, when a child wasn’t chastised. Talking in class was the most common offence but almost any trivial misbehaviour could result in being hit. There were some more regular recipients than others, of course, but I don’t think anyone – boy or girl – made it through their time there unscathed at some point.
Classroom punishments mostly consisted of either slapped legs (administered on the bare thigh – easily done with short trousers or skirts) or smacked bottoms (invariably clothed) given with both parties standing up. There was the occasional ruler across a palm and one teacher, an older woman in her 50s, who would sometimes roll down a sock and smack the child on the back of a calf with a ruler.
Mrs C was another matter altogether. As I say, a woman in her late 40s, not overly fat but definitely plump or buxom. with short brown hair. She was one of those people who gave a child butterflies in their stomach just by her presence, and she had a shouting voice that would have done any sergeant major proud. Somewhat ironically, she was always demanding silence indoors, whether in class, at lunch or waiting in the corridor.
The first punishment I can clearly remember her giving was to a boy called Kevin [all names changed – Ed] who was in my class. He and his brother Simon were both the type who were more often in trouble than most.
On this occasion, Kevin’s offence was to talk during lunch when Mrs C had just demanded silence. “Kevin! Come here!” she yelled. When the boy got to her, she looked him straight in the eye, adding: “I said: ‘Silence!’”
I think I expected Kevin to get a couple of quick smacks as we did in class. So, I was confused initially as the headmistress went to the waistband of his trousers and started undoing them. I was probably wide-eyed as she pulled his trousers down in front of everybody.
Then she smacked him. Not the couple of quick ones like in class, but about 10 or so hard, spaced-out laps on his bottom. He started crying after the first couple but Mrs C paid no heed and just carried on until she’d given him what she felt was his due. Trousers restored, Kevin came back to his seat and sobbed his way through the rest of the lunch break.
I had been simultaneously scared and fascinated by what I’d seen and that sight has remained with me to this day. Over the four years at that school I saw a handful of similar public punishments from Mrs C.
But the ultimate fear was to be sent or taken to her office. Generally, only the naughtiest boys – and very occasionally a girl – ended up there for punishment. I didn’t know what actually went on in the office – just that anyone who came back to class from a visit would always be in tears, even the ‘tough’ regularly naughty pupils. They were obviously chastised very soundly but I had no idea of the exact method of punishment. As a generally good boy, I assumed I’d never have to find out…
One morning as we were filing out of assembly, a girl from my class who was behind me pushed me in the back, perhaps because I was dawdling. Whatever the reason, I reacted out of character by turning round and giving her a big shove back. In fact, it was so big that the girl lost her balance and fell to the floor, immediately beginning to cry.
As I was usually a ‘good boy’, I wasn’t skilled at being bad. I’d been in no way crafty or sneaky in my reaction and the whole little drama had been played out right in front of Mrs C. She grabbed hold of me by the arm and said something like: “This one’s coming with me.” She dragged me down the short corridor to her office, presumably leaving a teacher to look after the girl. We went straight into her office and she closed the door behind her.
I had huge butterflies. She began with a shouty telling off, towering over me (I was seven or eight at the time). I was already crying and a naive part of me hoped that this, plus my usual good behaviour, would get me off any punishment or at least reduce it to a couple of slaps. No such luck!
Scolding complete, Mrs C took a chair from the side of the room, placed it more centrally and sat herself down. A sharp ‘come here’, accompanied by a pointing finger, directed me to her right side. As I stood there, Mrs C reached across, undid my trousers and pulled them down.
Next, she just curtly said” “Over!” Now, I’m sure I’d seen the over-the-knee position in comic books and the like but at that moment I didn’t understand what she wanted me to do and I just stood there, gormless and tearful. She repeated the command, only louder this time. I still just stood there, baffled. The third time she shouted “I said ‘over!’” while simultaneously grabbing me and pulling me across her lap. I was small and she was plump with big thighs, so I felt a long way off the ground.
Once I was in place Mrs C wasted no time. I was held tight and she began to spank me. My underpants stayed up but they were thin and no help at all. She went at a steady pace, neither particularly fast or slow, and each smack was administered with full force. I’d already been crying; now I was wailing and wriggling for all my worth, to no avail. Mrs C took no notice of my reaction and continued spanking at the same pace and with the same force. She was obviously very experienced in punishing small children and outmatched me by several factors strength-wise.
I know a common question is ‘how many?’ but I really have no idea. The punishment seemed to go on for ages, but in reality was at most a couple of minutes. When Mrs C had finished, I was stood back up, then she pulled my trousers back up and refastened them.
Without a word, she got up and went over to her desk, where she wrote in what I now realise would have been the Punishment Book. All the while, I just stood there crying. Then, still with nothing said, I was taken to my class. She spoke with the teacher briefly while I took my seat. It sounds clichéd, but initially it was genuinely sore to sit on the hard wooden chair.
I don’t remember any of my classmates asking what had happened and the rest of the day went fairly normally except for me being in a bit of a daze and my bottom still smarting. The sting gradually faded across the day. I recall thinking of myself as a ‘bad boy’, not because of what I’d done, but because I’d had my bottom smacked.
Getting home later that day, I went to the bathroom, took down my trousers and pants, and used the bathroom mirror to look at my bum. I was almost disappointed that it wasn’t bright red but some fingermarks were still visible on my buttocks. I was fascinated and ‘tingly’ out front without knowing why. As scary as it all was at the time, this spanking has provided many fond recollections in the decades since.