At the age of 12 I started at a boarding school. All our mistresses wore academic gowns and we had our uniforms with a skirt hemline that had to be no more than two inches above the knee when kneeling. We also had to wear ankle socks and black lace-up shoes. Sixth formers were allowed to wear stockings.
It was a very regulated community of 400 girls aged from 11 to 18 and all classes were limited to no more than 20. Although discipline was firm, the atmosphere was generally a friendly one. There were rigidly enforced rules and if they were broken we knew what to expect. The ultimate punishment was a caning on our bottoms, but only the head or her deputy could deal with such sentences during school hours. Our senior housemistress also had the same authority for any “after-hours” infringements in the dorm.
From memory, only two or three girls in my class were caned during the first year, but the mere threat of it seemed to keep most of us new girls in line. The following years were a different story, as some of us had become much more daring and were inclined to take greater risks - including the time when four of us skipped a sports afternoon, preferring instead a matinee at a local cinema. I was fourteen at the time and the other girls were all either fourteen or fifteen. I don’t know who sneaked on us, but when we came out of the cinema two teachers were waiting for us with the school’s mini-van to take us back to school.
We were told to report immediately to Mrs Myers, the headmistress, who ripped shreds off us with her tongue before passing sentence - we were each to get four strokes of the cane from Miss O’Neill, the deputy-head.
We could offer nothing in mitigation - we had been caught red-handed and we had got ourselves into this pickle with our eyes open. We were then sent to get changed into our PE gear as the school had a policy against making a girl lift her skirt for a panties (or bare bottom) caning. They probably thought it was immodest to do so. Our changing rooms were close to the head’s in the main vestibule - in the basement area of the assembly hall. Our clothing for PE was also rigidly set with no provision for variation - a white sleeveless top, pale blue shorts, and gym shoes without socks.
As we had to report to the deputy head in “five minutes”, we wasted little time in changing and then walked briskly (running was forbidden in the corridors or on the stairs) back to the vestibule where we stood in line outside the office. The secretary then ushered us inside and told us to stand in front of the desk in the adjoining deputy head’s office where a shiver of fear ran down my spine as I caught my first ever sight of a rattan cane - light yellow, thin and straight and about 3ft in length.
Miss O’Neill, a rather attractive red-haired Scottish woman in her mid-30s, was busy writing in a register - which I later learned was the school’s official punishment book. “All four of you committed a serious offence today by leaving school without permission and absenting yourselves from sports,” she admonished while dabbing the ink dry with a blotter. Reaching across the desk she picked up the cane and began flexing it in her hands, bending it into an arc and almost into a circle before letting it swish back straight. I stood there mesmerized as I never realised a cane could be so flexible.
“How many of you have been caned before?” she asked. Only one girl, Samantha, raised her hand. She was a strikingly pretty girl with long blonde hair tied back with a burgundy ribbon who had been caned in the third form about a year earlier.
Samantha had been really upset at having to change with the rest of us for the second dose. She was already crying and muttering something along the lines of “Golly I can’t take another caning - I’ve had it before and it really hurts; O’Neill whips it down so hard - like a red-hot poker on your bum - excruciatingly painful; truly is...” at which stage we told her to shut up because it was doing nothing to ease our already jagged nerves.
“Obviously the message didn’t register so I’ll endeavour to make a more lasting impression on you today,” said Miss O’Neill, getting up and walking around her desk. “You can also have the dubious honour of starting the show,” she said to Samantha. “The rest of you place your hands on your heads and keep quiet. Samantha, move to the centre of the room - you know what to do.”
Samantha shuffled away from us and without further instruction, bent over with her fingertips touching the rubber toe caps of her shoes. “You other girls please note Samantha’s position, for your turns are fast approaching,” said Miss O’Neill as she positioned herself to swing the cane. “Watch, observe and learn what to expect.”
We had a side-on view of Samantha bending with Miss O’Neill facing towards us. She then measured her distance by tapping the cane lightly on Samantha’s shorts before swinging it back over her shoulder and swishing it down with what seemed to be considerable force. The tip of the cane wrapped around Samantha’s right-side bum cheek with a deafening crack. Samantha remained bent and motionless for several seconds; but then suddenly screached and straightened up with a look of absolute agony on her face.
“That’s enough of that nonsense,” said Miss O’Neill. “Bend over immediately and stay in position or I’ll get my secretary to hold you over my desk.” Samantha resumed her position and held it for the next two strokes, punctuated only by loud yelps after each crack. She jumped up after the fourth stroke, with tears streaming down her face.
“Get back with the other girls and keep you hands on your head,” Miss O’Neill said.
I gulped as heard: “Lindsey, you’re next.”
I moved as stoically as I could to the centre and bent over for my first ever caning - I knew I had passed the point of no return as I gazed at the highly polished parquet wooden floor. “I want you over further than that with your fingers touching your toes,” I heard from the rear. By now my shorts were stretched skin tight. Then I felt the cane touch my seat - almost tickling it in a rolling movement and attracting a voluntary shiver. Silence... then a loud swish followed by a crack that echoed around the room. For a moment I felt nothing - and I wondered what all the fuss was about.
But alas, it was only for a moment - all the nerve endings in my bum suddenly leapt to life and a fire-like pain took over.
I gave a loud scream and was just about to straighten up when the second stroke hit its target without warning. This time there was no brief respite - the pain was immediate and I straightened up, clasping my bum-cheeks in both hands. I couldn’t help myself - I was dancing a jig. “I can’t take any more - it hurts so much,” I sobbed.
“A caning is meant to hurt - and you were half way but I’m losing my patience and you now have three more to come - get back over, NOW!” said Miss O’Neill. I did as I was told and reluctantly resumed my position. The third crack was a real stinger and got me lower down on a very tender area. I gave another yelp and pleaded “Please, Miss, not there again” just as the fourth stroke whistled through the air to land almost on the very same spot. Another yelp and I jerked straight up.
“Get back down for the extra one I promised” said Miss O’Neill. Again I bent, this time feeling my damaged bum cheeks sting as the skin stretched as I resumed the correct position, with my hair dangling over my face and almost touching the floor.
Miss O’Neill didn’t mess about - the final strike found its target, but I think my bum must have been numb for it didn’t hurt as much as the first four. I was then told to return to the desk where two very frightened girls, Anna and Catherine were waiting alongside a still sobbing Samantha.
Catherine was called forward and she surprisingly took her punishment with little fuss, apart from a muffled screech after the second stroke and visible shudder and louder screech after the third. Nevertheless, the caning had drawn tears and she was obviously suffering when she rejoined us. (Catherine told me later that her father had frequently punished her at home with a belt which, she said, hurt more than the cane. I can only take her word for that!)
Anna was next and what a performance she turned on. I really had been embarrassed by the way I had reacted to my first caning, but it was nothing compared to Anna, a slim dark-haired beauty with a naturally tanned body I would have killed for. Anna, who had boasted earlier that she had never been spanked by anyone in her life before, was weeping as she tried to adopt the correct position, but Miss O’Neill was clearly getting annoyed by her failure to bend properly. “This is your last chance,” she said, poking her cane on the toe cap of one of Anna’s shoes. “This is where I want your fingertips.”
Anna finally did as she was told, and Miss O’Neill gave her an almighty cut with such force that the cane literally wrapped around her bum. Again there was no immediate response, but the rest of us knew it would be only a matter of second or two before the pain took over. And when it did Anna screamed “Oh ****; oh ****... Christ... Jeeeez,” before dropping to her knees. She then started rolling around the floor with her hands rubbing her bum and kicking her legs in all directions.
We stood there stunned, with our mouths open. “Stop that language and your ridiculous act and get up immediately,” Miss O’Neill ordered. But Anna stayed on the floor sobbing and pleading to be let off. Miss O’Neill moved to her desk and call for her secretary to come in and the two of them pulled Anna to her feet and pushed her across the desk where the secretary pinned her arms down. Miss O’Neill then gave her four more really hard strokes at 15 second intervals, punctuated by loud wails and screams and vigorous kicking of legs. When finally released, she again slumped to the floor in a sobbing heap for a minute or two before recovering enough to rejoin us.
We were then dismissed and told to return to the dorm for a shower and change. All four of us were curious to inspect the damage - I certainly could feel the raised ridges where the cane had landed on my bottom and when I stood under the shower there was this magnificent tingling sensation which almost seemed to make the pain I had suffered half an hour earlier worthwhile. Poor Anna’s bum was a real mess of reddish-purple weals two of which were crossed over.
Samantha also displayed an obviously well-caned seat. “Christ, feel this ridge,” she invited, touching a spot where three strokes had cut across each other. She flinched as I lightly ran my soapy fingers over the damaged area. “Oooh that’s nice,” she sighed.
Catherine was hardly marked, except for one raised weal well close to where her bum cheeks joined her thighs. She joked that her skin was as thick as a rhino’s - but admitted that the lower area was her weak spot.
Sitting for dinner that night on the hard wooden forms was a uncomfortable for all four of us, but that caning brought us all closer together.
I avoided the cane for the rest of that year, but I did get another caning the following year. That was a straight three strokes for accumulating three detentions which I took with no fuss - not too bad for an “old hand”. I can’t be certain if Anna was ever caned again after the cinema episode but Samantha certainly was on one occasion (for skipping detention) while tough little Catherine got it twice more in the fourth form and once in the fifth, but I can’t recall what they were for.
I never realised that life at boarding school could be so harsh.
Thank God I sent my daughter to that sink school on the Bromford.
Re: My first school caning
October 7 2004, 8:14 PM
An amusing little tale which must have taken 'Lindsey' some time to write with one hand on the keyboard and the other on his lower brain.
Re: My first school caning
October 8 2004, 10:26 AM
Lost on the Bromford
October 8 2004, 6:43 PM
I hope Lotta will be able to answer your question. She lives there.
Tune: Blue Moon
Don’t leave me standing alone.
Without a Sherman tank
How will I ever get home?
The Bromford Poet
Re: Sink Estate
October 8 2004, 7:09 PM
Bromford is on the dole,
Bromford is on parole,
Bromford is bootleg fags and booze.
Bromford is shag a deer,
Bromford is kill a queer,
Bromford is dogs with tattoos.
Re: Sink Estate
October 9 2004, 10:09 AM
Thanks for clearing that up!
Re: Sink Estate
October 9 2004, 11:44 AM
Sorry if I spelled it rong but you get my drift... The addition of a school name would add credibility to this incredible tale. Why the reluctance to say the name of a school? It is hardly a state secret!