When I was 11 I moved up to a co-educational grammar school. Minor instances of misbehaviour in the classroom were punished by the boy or girl concerned being sent out of the class into the corridor. After a few minutes the teacher would generally let you back into the class.
However, all instances of "corridoring" were recorded and if you were sent out three times in the course of a week, you could be sent for the cane.
In my case one Friday late in my first term at the school I made the mistake of flicking an elastic band at someone and was sent out. Only then did I realise that it was the third such sending out that term, and what that would mean.
Later that day my form master told me that he had reported me and that I would have to see the headmaster after assembly on Monday.
All weekend I was worried about what was going to happen and on Monday morning I was more careful than usual to make sure that I was wearing the correct school uniform.
In assembly I sat in a seat at the end of the row, so as to be able to leave when my name was called out. Then I noticed that the headmaster was not in his usual place on the stage. I started to think that I might escape, or at least gain a reprieve.
But it was not to be. Towards the end of assembly the senior mistress announced that she would be punishing a fourth year girl for smoking. She read the name out: "Lindsey Rushworth, form 4B, wait for me outside my office."
A tall girl with long brown hair stood up and, blushing as everybody looked towards her, walked out of the hall.
While she was still on her way Mrs Seaton went on to say that, in the absence of the headmaster, she would be punishing the boys, too. She read out my name and form and that I was to be punished for being sent out three times, and then told me, too, to wait outside her room.
As I walked out I was still very scared about what was going to happen, and, fearing that tears were coming, looked down at the floor as I walked out, but I do remember that I felt fortunate at least inasmuch as it was Mrs Seaton who would be caning me and not the headmaster.
I caught up with Lindsey in the corridor leading to Mrs Seaton's office, which was opposite that of the headmaster. I didn't say anything to her. I was still very frightened and, in any case, I don't think I'd ever spoken to anyone in the fourth year - they were a long way senior to us first years.
We walked slowly to the office door and stood outside. There was still some time to go until the assembly was dismissed. Suddenly Lindsey said something to me. I realised that my hands had been subconsciously rubbing the seat of my short trousers. I jerked them away and looked up at Lindsey.
Lindsey was a very nice girl. Although she must have been, with good reason, as fearful as I was, but she still tried to ease my nerves a little. She told me not to worry and said that as it was my first time I would probably only get a couple of strokes and that it wouldn't hurt all that much. She said that the only thing I had to remember was to do exactly what Mrs Seaton said, as soon as she said it!
We heard the sound of the assembly breaking up and fell silent. As the classes trooped by at the end of the corridor, several pupils glanced towards us as we stood unhappily outside the office. I knew that they would be imagining what would soon be happening to us.
After everyone had gone past Mrs Seaton came marching up. She looked at both of us as if we were something rotten that the cat had dragged in and, without saying a word, went straight into her office. Lindsey made a face at me and we continued to stand outside in silence.
After what seemed to be ages, but was probably no more than a minute or two, the door opened again and Mrs Seaton called Lindsey in.
I stood close to the door, trying to hear what was happening, but I could only make out the sound of voices and not what they were saying. It was easy to guess, though, that Lindsey was getting a good telling off.
Then, out of the blue, a shockingly different sound - the thwap of a cane smacking onto Lindsey's bottom. A silence followed, and then another thwap. I thought I heard a gasp from Lindsey. I shivered, thinking about my own turn, coming soon.
After a similar interval there was the sound of another stroke. This time there was no doubt about it. The impact was followed swiftly by a sharp cry of pain. I wondered how many strokes Lindsey was going to get.
As regular as a metronome, the next stroke landed. To my horror this elicited a real scream and the sound of poor Lindsey bursting into tears. I was very close to tears myself, but couldn't help listening in horrified fascination.
Despite Lindsey's reaction the fifth stroke followed after the now familiar pause. Poor Lindsey! This time there was an almighty yell, sounding really loud even through the closed door. I heard thudding sounds and Lindsey's voice, raised and tearful. There was a longer pause, when all I could hear was raised voices, then it went quiet again, but no sixth stroke followed.
I was beginning to think that Lindsey's punishment was over - although five seemed an odd number of strokes - when I heard again the awful sound of that cane, but even louder than before.
Again the stroke resulted in a shriek from Lindsey followed by loud sobbing. Two more strokes followed quickly, with similar reactions.
By now I felt really dreadful. There was another long pause. The office door opened. I thought I was going to be sick. Lindsey stumbled out, tears were pouring down her face, half hidden by a tissue. Behind her Mrs Seaton beckoned to me: "Marling!"
Trembling with fear, I walked into the office. I saw a cane, about three feet long, lying on the teacher's desk.
Mrs Seaton gave me a real telling off, saying how important it was to behave in class and not to disrupt the lessons for everyone else. I tried to pay attention, so that she would see how sorry I was, but all I could think of was the effect that awful cane had had on poor Lindsey and that I was about to get the same.
"You were sent out of the classroom three times last week, Marling. I am going to give you one stroke of the cane for each time and one extra one, for putting me to this trouble. How many strokes is that?"
"Four strokes, miss." We called all the women teachers "miss", whether or not they were married.
"Yes, Marling. Four strokes. You've never had the cane before, have you?"
She could probably have guessed this from the expression on my face, but I suppose that it was on the school records. I shook my head.
"Well, Marling, a caning is a serious punishment. You are here because you have persistently misbehaved over the last week. I shall now try to show you just how seriously we take your misbehaviour. The cane is supposed to hurt and I can assure you that it will hurt - a lot.
"I expect you to stay in position throughout your punishment, until I tell you that you can stand up.
"Did you hear how many strokes Lindsey Rushworth got?"
I didn't know why she was asking and didn't know what to say: "I'm not sure, miss."
"She got eight strokes, Marling. I don't think that young lady will be sitting down comfortably for a long time. But she was only due to get six strokes.
"Lindsey got two extra strokes because she made the mistake of standing up after just five strokes. I hope that you profit from her example and stay bent down until I tell you to stand. If you interrupt your caning in any way; standing up, putting your hands in the way, kicking your shoes off - anything like that - you WILL get extra strokes too. Do you understand?"
I nodded my head in dumb misery.
"Good! Well, let's get this over with so we can both get back to work. Take your trousers off and put them on the chair!"
I was shocked. I hadn't expected this. I made no move to obey.
"Come on, Marling. Lindsey got it on her knickers and I don't see any reason why you shouldn't get it on your pants! Now, don't waste my time unless you want extra."
I was sniffing away tears as I reluctantly lowered my short grey trousers and placed them on the chair. My little bottom felt so vulnerable.
Mrs Seaton picked up her cane from the desk.
"Now, I want you to bend right down over the desk, holding onto the other side. And you stay there until I give you permission!"
My legs were trembling as I stretched myself over the desk. It was wide and I could only just hold onto the edge with my toes on the floor. I tried to make my grip as firm as possible and closed my eyes tight shut and waited.
I was concentrating so hard that I didn't notice any movement by Mrs Seaton, or any sound of the cane. Suddenly, though, my bottom exploded in pain. It wasn't a line of pain across my bottom. My whole backside was suddenly on fire! I squirmed over the desk, holding on desperately, determined not to earn extra strokes. The awful smart got worse and worse. I still had three to come. Tears were squeezing out of my shut eyes.
This time I heard Mrs Seaton move and tried to tense myself. To no avail. The cane smashed down again, and the awful pain in my rear went to a new level. Cotton underpants were no protection at all against that vicious cane.
I yelled out in agonised protest, trying to let the teacher know how much she was hurting me. She knew.
"Not pleasant, is it Marling? It's not supposed to be! Two more to come."
I held on although all my instincts were yelling at me to stand up and hold my poor bum.
The third stroke landed lower than the first two had, whether intentionally or caused by my involuntary wrigglings across the desk. It whipped down across the very tops of my thighs and stung like bloody hell - even worse than those first two strokes. I screamed at the top of my voice and writhed over the desk in agony. Somehow I managed to stay down and to channel all of my efforts into holding on. But I was sobbing as I awaited the fourth and final stroke.
Mrs Seaton kept me waiting for a long time, sobbing over her desk, my poor little bottom bouncing up and down as I awaited the last stroke. Finally it came. Another real stinger across the centre of my bottom. I howled out in pain again, but still kept a grip on that desk. I didn't want to earn extra strokes now!
The senior mistress kept me bent over like that for about a minute, still crying, my bottom flooded with pain. Finally, she patted me on the back and told me to stand up. I can still remember my relief! I stood up slowly, my whole body was hurting, and pressed both hands to my poor injured bottom.
"Trousers back on!"
This took a while, given the painful state of my posterior. Eventually I stood, still tearful, facing Mrs Seaton. My hands were carefully massaging my smarting rear. I could feel the mark left by that wayward third stroke on bare flesh, not covered by my short trousers as the others were.
Mrs Seaton passed me a box of tissues and I took one and tried to dry my eyes. She warned me to behave myself in future and told me that if I didn't like the cane from her I would like it a lot less from the headmaster.
As I walked unsteadily from her room I resolved never to get the cane again.
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