An unexpected Caning.
Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 28 Feb 2018
An Unexpected Caning
It was a hot summer morning and the lessons seemed to drag. We wanted lunch and then to get into the playground to relax and let off a bit of steam. Our grammar school had been built in the 1960’s and it’s three-stories were located in a very small and cramped square of outer London, paved only with tarmac and surrounded by houses. Consequently ball games and particularly football were banned during our break times; there were clear signs to indicate this restriction. I guess too many accidents and complaints from the school’s neighbours over the years of balls and boys in the facing back gardens, damaged greenhouses and bruised juniors hit with the ball.
My group had adopted an alternative strategy and in the absence of a proper football we played a game with a small tennis ball based on similar rules but played in a much smaller and discrete area by the 6th form extension. We were happily letting off steam and enjoying the physical freedom and release from a morning of boring studies. One of the six of us kicked the small ball and it went flying through the air and hit a window on the first floor. There was no damage and the ball fell back to earth. It was after all only a small tennis ball made of soft rubber. Suddenly the same window flew open and the voice and face of the new deputy headmaster appeared....
Mr. Harding was new at the school and still an unknown quantity. He looked quite fierce and formal,
in contrast to the school’s aging and sagging headmaster but nobody had really any idea of his standing
or likely reaction to events in school. He seemed quite calm as he called from the window but asked that
I attend his office for a conversation.
Nothing to worry about, I thought as I made my way into
the school building and made my way up the stairs to his first floor office. No damage had been done to
his window and we had clearly not been playing with a proper football. I did wonder why only one of us
had been summoned and that it had been me, after all I had not kicked the ball that hit his window. Perhaps
he just wanted to give us all a bit of a warning? I convinced myself that this was nothing to worry about
and all would be well. As I turned the corner that led to his office I saw him coming out and closing
the door. Our paths crossed as he walked towards me and greeted me with the words,
Wait outside my
office and don’t move.
Yes Sir, I said as I continued the last few paces to stand outside the
The corridor was dark after the bright sunshine outside and empty. I could hear the noise of the
playground and the sounds of the kitchen staff clearing away the dinner service. I stood completely alone
and again doubts and questions started in my head. I wondered what was planned for me. There was only
about 15 minutes left of the lunch break and I landed upon the idea that Mr. Harding planned a short detention
outside his office and a talking to before being released to afternoon lessons. The minutes passed slowly
and I realised that I had left my blazer in the playground. I toyed with the idea of running downstairs
to get it but feared the reaction of the Deputy Head if he returned during the 90 seconds or so that I
would be absent. I decided to stay put. More minutes passed.
Perhaps I’ve been forgotten, I tried
to convince myself as I recognised that churning stomach feeling that all schoolboys have felt not knowing
what punishment, if any, I was facing.
At last I heard some clear footsteps suggesting the return of the Deputy Head and the resolution
of all my fears. As he turned the corner my eyes lighted upon a yellow rod he carried by his side. I gulped
as I realised that he had gone to fetch one of the school’s canes, probably from the Headmaster. I had
been waiting all this time outside his office expecting nothing more than a telling off and all the while
he was planning to cane me! My mind was working overtime by now as I tried to anticipate a teacher’s logic
and how that merited a caning? As he swept passed me into his office he said,
Wait there. The door
closed behind him.
Everything in my head was now even more confusion. Was the cane he was carrying coincidental, I speculated? Perhaps he had other boys to deal with later that day or perhaps it was his cane lent to another master. The minutes ticked on and I had still not been summoned into his office. Again my mind worked overtime as I decided that the reason I was standing outside the Headmaster’s Study was for a telling off. All this waiting and mixed emotions were really getting to me now just not really knowing what was going to happen to me and then that cane.... I kept seeing the cane in his hand and my shocked feeling at seeing it ...
Again he walked past me, carrying the cane in hand and entering the office brusquely, closing the door behind him. My mind was in a whirl trying to put a logical explanation to what had happened to me over the past twenty minutes. Perhaps the cane was for another poor boy’s rear and my punishment was the detention standing outside his office? I kept reminding myself that I had committed no real crime and the idea of a caning seemed completely out of the question but there was that nagging hollow feeling in my stomach. I felt wretched and fearful of the cane and what damage it could do. At the same time I was fascinated by the idea of being punished by this new teacher to the school, the unknown quantity that nobody had worked out yet.
I was stopped in my train of though as I heard the distinct sound of a chair scraping across the office floor as clearly furniture was being rearranged within. Seconds later the door opened. I was invited to step inside the room. Before me was a school chair placed clearly in the centre of the room to one side of his imposing desk on which I could see the yellow cane that he had been carrying.
Have you been caned before, he asked me?
Yes Sir – a couple of times before
Then you will be familiar with what I need you to do for me as I intend to punish you now.
it may seem unfair but all you boys have been warned about playing with balls in our
small playground and the danger of damage to windows. He went on,
we tell you these things because
school rules are designed to protect us all, even my windows.
In my time as a teacher I know that
there is nothing more powerful to reinforce school rules than proper punishment delivered effectively
and no news spreads faster through the school than a dose of the cane being applied to a boy’s rear
The penny finally dropped. I realised now that I was to be made an example of as a sort of sacrificial lamb to spread the message about playground behaviour and playing with balls. Mr. Harding was clearly an advocate of the cane and saw its use as an integral part of school life and discipline. All that remained in my mind now was how many and how hard? My only consolation was the knowledge that I was to be dealt with there and then and would not have the agony of the wait for a cane appointment at the end of school day.
Mr. Harding asked if I understood his intention and encouraged me to make sure that news of my imminent
punishment was to be spread far and wide. I replied,
yes Sir – I understand. Mr. Harding
picked up the cane and used it to signal my bending over the back of the chair. I moved towards the place
of execution and bent stiffly over the chair back.
Right over and hold the legs with both hands –
you’ll need to hold on until I tell you it’s over – understand. I stretched up on my toes
and went fully over the chair back finding the top of the chair legs to grab onto as I found the position
he wanted me to assume.
The first stoke landed firmly on the centre line of my bottom. I had heard the swish and braced myself
for the impact. The pain was intense but bearable and I reckoned that this would soon be over. The second
stroke was better placed and close to the first. This time the pain was overwhelming and I gasped and
rattled the chair with my whole body as I clung on for dear life. My impulse was to jump up and say,
more Sir please, but every element of schoolboy pride and the reckoning that this would only make
things worse kept me clinging on. Negotiating with myself to endure this hell and stay bent over. A third
stroke landed with a crack on by bottom and this time I gasped out loud,
ouhhh, again clutching
the chair for all I was worth.
You can get up now boy, said Mr. Harding. I raised myself up and realised that I was feeling
a bit light-headed and shaky but exhilarated that the caning was over. Three tough strokes –
but not too bad all things considered.
I stood in front of our new and imposing Deputy Headmaster as he placed the cane firmly back on his desk. It made a particular rattling sound that would live in my head for weeks.
You know what to do now don’t you boy?
Pardon Sir, I stumbled.
Go spread the word
boy – your caning was delivered as an example to all other boys who might think about playing
with balls in the playground. He warned me,
the next time it will be six strokes for ALL of you
that I catch playing with balls.
Off you go!
I left the office with conflicting feelings and emotions. The pride of all schoolboys throughout history who have taken what masters dish out to them. Feelings of embarrassment and humiliation and not knowing who I wanted to know about what had happened to me. Should I tell all or keep it private. Then there was the physical hot, stinging, burning sensation from my bottom that was sharp and all encompassing as I walked. Each step a sharp reminder of the three recent swishing, stinging cane lashes I had just endured. In my minds eye I could see the three raised stripes on my white bottom and made a plan to visit the toilet soon but I was also confident knowing that this sharp pain would mellow through the afternoon to a pleasurable and very exciting type of post cane sensation – more diffuse and a physical reminder of being bent over for my swishing.
All I can say in conclusion is that playing ball in the playground from that afternoon onwards assumed a new sense of terror and excitement in the knowledge that a possible cane penalty, or the stick as we termed it at school, awaited us...perhaps.