I think it all started with The Dudes. Do you remember them? They were a band that was hot for a couple of years. Their “thing” was that they all dressed in grey short trousers, the kind that schoolboys wore in the olden days.
Short trousers became very fashionable. Clubs would be full of students dressed up like eight-year-olds. The girls loved it. Men in smart short trousers are very sexy, apparently.
They were not school uniforms. You usually wore a smart coloured shirt and a paisley-patterned sleeveless pullover with your short trousers. The Dudes all had neatly-cut short hair and that look became fashionable as well. We were all very clean cut.
It was a scorching summer, my last before leaving school. It was so hot boys took to wearing their short trousers to school. Our parents, of course, hooted with laughter at the sight of us, but which teenager ever wanted his parents to approve of his clothes?
The teachers did not complain. These were properly tailored grey short trousers, not untidy leisure shorts. We looked very smart in blazers, white shirts and striped ties. And as I said the girls loved to see us dressed this way so that some of the boys carried on wearing their short trousers, even when the weather cooled a little.
Although the teachers did not complain, some of them ribbed us a little about ‘old-fashioned values’ and asked when we were going to do our National Service. That went above our heads, but Mr Figgis, our history teacher, soon put us right on that.
We all loved Mr Figgis. He was a great teacher and we all owed him a lot. I certainly did, I would never have got my A-levels and university place without him. We loved him also because he was an eccentric.
Encouraged by the school students’ ‘retro’ look, Figgis turned up to the sixth-form common room one day, dressed in an old-fashioned schoolmaster’s academic gown and on top of his head was a mortar-board and tassel. We roared our approval and he took a little bow, the way that ham actors do. Then, rather like a magician, he swept his gown aside and revealed he was carrying a cane.
He swished it through the air to more hoots of laughter. None of us had seen such a thing. Corporal punishment had been banned in schools thirty years previously and one might have expected all the crook-handled rattan canes to have been put on a bonfire somewhere.
His face split into a huge grin. “Now who’s for six-of-the-best?” This set us off again.
“Bend over Thompson!” George Furness called out, rather too enthusiastically.
“Skirts up girls, knickers down, touch your toes,” this was from Shane Gardner, an especially unpleasant student.
Before we knew it Mr Figgis had surrendered his cane and it was being passed from hand to hand round the room. It seemed everyone, girl or boy, wanted to feel the suppleness of the cane. And, it was terrifically bendy. I almost got the two ends to touch.
Nobody noticed when Figgis left the room, leaving fifteen or so sixth-formers alone together with his cane.
I think it was Shane who got us going. “Well, who wants to bend over? Sharon?”
Sharon decidedly did not want to bend over for Shane and told him so in most unladylike language.
It was Rich who was the first to stick his bum out. It was a comical gesture. He bent at the waist and jutted out his bottom. Everyone laughed as Alex picked up the cane, took aim and smacked it into the seat of Rich’s short trousers.
“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” Rich pulled a comical miserable face and jumped up and down on the spot rubbing his bottom. “Oh, my poor botty.” He was not hurt at all and we roared with laughter.
Rich’s histrionics kicked it off and soon boys were offering up their bottoms. Alan King, the head prefect, took hold of the cane and swished it menacingly. “So which prefect shirked his duties last week?”
The roar from the sixth-formers could be heard all over the building. They knew that Alan meant Wayne Littleton. Wayne was a lazy sod and was always missing in action. It was a prefect’s duty to patrol the buildings at lunchtime and morning break to make sure all the school students were out. Wayne’s prefect partner Timothy often had to do the work on his own.
“Little-ton! Little-ton!” the cry went up.
“Well, Wayne,” Alan swished the cane.
Wayne’s face lit up with a bright smile. He might be lazy but he was a good sort and people generally liked him. He raised himself from his seat with a huge grin on his face. Camera phones and Tablets were whisked from cases.
“Stand there,” the head prefect pointed to a spot on the rug with his cane. The crowd of onlookers tried unsuccessfully to suppress giggles.
Another swish of the cane, and then, “Bend over and touch your toes.”
Wayne’s short trousers tightened across the teenager’s buttocks as he lent forward, placing his hands on his knees.
“Right over. Touch your toes, boy,” Alan played the part of ‘headmaster’ to perfection. Submissively, Wayne stretched down into the required position.
The video recording that was uploaded later to YouTube showed a determined head prefect line up his cane across the very centre of Wayne’s buttocks. This was no piece of fun for him; he was in deadly earnest.
He tap, tap, tapped the cane and then raised it and brought it back down with a swipe. Wayne was not expecting this. He let out a gasp but suppressed the yelp he truly wanted to emit. Unlike Rich, he did not jump up and down rubbing at his scorched buttocks. Instead, he stayed calmly bent over, breathing heavily, waiting for stroke number two.
The sixth-formers were astounded. This was not a joke any more. All eyes stared at Alan. What would he do next? The first cut had clearly hurt Wayne, but he was still submitting himself for more. Alan felt the eyes of his fellow school students’ burn into him. What did they want him to do? He fingered the cane and was about to put it down and walk away when an urge got the better of him. He turned to face Wayne, raised the cane and brought it crashing down one more time on the boy’s bottom.
“That’s enough. Stand up and make sure you’re on duty on time in future.”
Wayne stood up, genuinely hurt, but some schoolboy instinct that had lain dormant for a generation or more told him he must not show it in front of the others.
In spite of encouragement from the boys no girl submitted herself to the sting of the cane. It was entirely boy-on-boy action.
I had my chance to brandish the cane with Peter Levell; he of the dewy eyes and bubble butt. We boys thought he was gay, but the girls all adored him, so maybe we were just jealous.
Peter’s eyes lit up as I picked up the cane and swished it at him. He made no attempt to disguise it. To me it looked like he could not wait to offer me his bottom. His warm smile was encouraging me. He did not say anything, but I knew what he was thinking: you are my master and I am your slave. Given minimum encouragement, he would probably have dropped his short trousers and pants and let me flog his bare arse.
“Bend over that chair!” I ordered
“Oh, yes please!” Peter the Pansy needed no encouragement. In a jiffy he was over the back of the low armchair and wriggling his bum at me. It was a gorgeous bottom, round and fleshy. I am not gay, but even I can recognise a great butt when I see it and it was rare indeed that I could see one this close up and presented to me in such a provocative manner.
I took aim, raised the cane and swiped it with all the force I could muster and thwacked it so hard across the centre of his buttocks that the rod could have entered at his backside and exited through his front.
Peter yelled a piercing scream and shot up from the chair, genuinely injured. He rubbed hard at the seat of his short trousers and tears formed behind his eyes.
“Bend over.” I professed not to notice the state of Peter’s injuries. The wretched boy stood his ground, bent double. If he had believed he would enjoy being caned by me, or anyone else for that matter, he had been wrong.
What happened next surprised me. It had not been planned, but when I review the incident on the video – the upload to YouTube has had hundreds of thousands of views – I am sickened.
Shane Gardner and another boy called Aaron, grabbed Peter and manhandled him so that he was face down across the table we sometimes eat our lunch from. Each boy held on to a shoulder pinning the boy down. He was entirely at my mercy.
The video shows fifteen or so eighteen year olds hooting with merriment. They had never had so much fun.
I slashed the cane into Peter’s buttocks and his scream was so loud it could be heard in the street five storeys below our common room.
By the time the next slash had landed the hoots of laughter had become a deathly hush.
But, poor Peter was roaring. His struggles to get free were impeded by two hefty sixth-formers.
By the time I had delivered the full six swipes, six-of-the-very-best to use the phrase so feared by schoolboys in days gone by, Peter was a wreck. His body trembled as he fought to take in gulps of air. He looked like a fish out of water struggling to stay alive.
His once-dewy eyes shone brightly and his face was contorted in agony. Tears and snot covered his mouth and chin.
Shane and Aaron still held him tightly, unsure what they should do next.
Someone, I don’t know who it was but it was one of the girls, whispered, “Let him go, let him go.”
Once released, Peter lurched across the common room and staggered through the door into the corridor, where unnoticed by the cameras and Tablets, he collapsed.
He did not go to the hospital, but maybe he should have done. Some of the girls took him to Karen’s house and they patched him up there.
I skipped my classes and went home alone.
Within hours the images and videos of our escapade were all over social media where they have stayed to this day.
Next day, nobody talked about it, but I did hear that Mr Figgis did not get his cane back. One of the sixth-formers must have taken it (to do who knows what?). “No need to worry,” Rich, said to me, “he probably has quite a collection.”
Peter did not return to school. We were weeks away from A-levels and I also stayed away as much as possible. There were rumours that he had some kind of breakdown, but I did not know the truth of this.
I was torn apart with remorse. That person on the video was not me. What demon had entered my body and made me behave like this? I wanted to apologise, to make amends, to show remorse, but I did not know how. Many times, late at night, after viewing the video yet again I tried to compose apologies. I could not find the words and any email I might have written poor Peter remained unsent.
The glorious hot summer continued and I worked in a supermarket to make some cash before I went off to university. I would soon be hundreds of miles from home and in all likelihood would drift away from the city of my birth and my home. I knew that if I did not act swiftly and atone to Peter before I left for university, I might regret it for the rest of my life.
Then, totally out of the blue, Peter contacted me. His email was short, but to the point; he wanted to meet. We exchanged emails and arranged to meet at his parent’s house. They were on holiday and he had it to himself.
I was not sure exactly what I would say when I met Peter, but I resolved to be contrite. The weather broke and it was a cool day so I abandoned my short trousers and dressed in sweat pants and a top. His house was on the other side of town and I had never visited it before, but it was not too difficult to find.
In some trepidation I knocked on the door and was met not by Peter but by a young man who was perhaps a couple of years older than me. He was as wide as he was tall with shaven head and from what I could see, every square-centimetre of his flesh was covered in tattoos.
I heard Peter’s voice from inside the house call to me, “Come in!”
Peter had not changed much since I had last seen him. He still had the warm smile but his dewy eyes seemed more hardened.
What happened next will stay with me forever. If this was to be a meeting of reconciliation he first wanted his revenge. I did not blame him for it then and I do not blame him now.
He and his friend, I never was told his name, took me into the front room. It was a typical room of its type, not different from ours at home. Except they had rigged up two cameras on tripods at different ends of the room, both were pointed at the dining room table.
His friend left the room and reappeared almost immediately. Under his arm he had three straight Malacca canes. He stared malevolently at me as he laid them on the table.
“You can get them on e-Bay,” Peter told me unnecessarily.
They were all about three or four feet long and of different thicknesses. One at least was thicker than the one I used to flog Peter.
The moment I saw the canes and the cameras I knew what they proposed to do. I might have had a chance to run for the door and escape, but I realised that I did not want to do that. Peter was right; this was the way that I should atone for the hurt I had caused. He should do to me what I had done to him. He should return the favour, but with interest.
Peter’s friend pointed to the table. “Do you want to choose?” I was surprised by his accent, it was posh upper-class English; I had expected him to be a gangster.
I blanched, not knowing whether this was a serious question. “No, by jove,” he said and I knew he must have been putting on the accent, ‘then allow me to choose for you.”
He picked up the thickest of the three canes and tested it between his hands. Despite its thickness it was extremely supple. In an attempt to intimidate me (it worked) he slashed the cane through the air. Then, for extra effect, he brought it crashing down into the seat cushion of an armchair. Dust flew as the rod sank deep into the soft cushioning.
I could see that this cane would rip my arse to shreds. But, of course, that was the point. I should be reduced to a physical wreck just as Peter had been. I did not relish the prospect, but I knew it was what I deserved.
Peter checked that the cameras were working and his friend produced rope from his pocket.
I watched impassively, as if this were just another YouTube video (which it soon would be) and this was happening to somebody else and not to me.
I did not resist when the friend took my arm and dragged me to the table and then shoved me across it face down. He tied both my wrists firmly to table legs. Absurd though it sounds I was very impressed by his ability to tie knots. Had this tattooed monster once been a Boy Scout?
Neither man said a word from that point on. I was able to turn my head enough to see Peter pull on a Margaret Thatcher mask. The absurdity only struck me later; how many men had dreamed of being caned by Margaret Thatcher?
Peter seemed satisfied with his disguise; nobody watching YouTube would know that it was him wielding the cane. Nobody that is, except every one of the sixth-formers who witnessed his own humiliation at my hands.
Peter was not quite ready to begin. I felt him move behind me and, he did this ever so gently, he pulled my sweat pants and underpants down to my ankles. I was to be naked from the waist down for my caning. A bared-arse thrashing: I deserved no less. Peter’s friend tied my ankles together and my former school friend was ready to go. I tensed my defenceless buttocks as I heard Peter walk behind me swishing the cane. Then there was a terrible crack. I screamed in agony and instantly began to cry uncontrollably.
I was panting and gasping for breath when the second cut slashed into the very centre of my cheeks. I struggled to get free, but Peter’s friend’s knots were tight.
I closed my eyes tight and clenched my teeth, but it was no good. My screams could be heard in the street outside.
The pain was excruciating, worse than I could possibly have imagined. Had I beaten Peter like this?
After what seemed an eternity Peter resumed his position. The next stroke was every bit as hard as the first two and I could feel flesh in my buttocks had been ripped apart. Blood was seeping from my wounds.
“You’re killing me!” I screamed, but Peter was already raising the cane to slash it lower down my buttocks.
I might have passed out at the next stroke, I cannot be sure. Certainly, everything appeared to go black. I have never had the courage to view the video, so I cannot say for sure what happened.
Peter sadistically lashed the final cut diagonally across welts of the other five. The agony was terrifying and I raised my body a couple of centimetres off the table. I struggled with all my might to try to break free of my restraints, but to no avail. Later I would have to treat the deep burn marks on both wrists.
Peter and his friend left me alone in the room. The agony in my buttocks was intense and my heart was racing, I could feel the blood speeding through my veins. Every part of my body ached. I thought I might have a heart attack at any moment.
I shed so many tears there were pools on the table top. I had no control over any of my bodily functions. I felt a surge in my stomach and vomit flooded from my mouth. Moments later my bowels evacuated and shit ran down the back of my legs.
Totally and utterly humiliated, I lay face down in my own filth and cried and cried and cried.
It was some time before Peter returned. I never saw his friend again. He switched off the cameras and removed the mask.
He never said a single word as he undid the ropes and helped me to stand. Then, he put one of my arms over his shoulders and very gently he guided me up the stairs to the bathroom.
He pulled off my top so that I was now totally naked and turned on the shower. Even though he was himself fully dressed, he picked up a sponge and gently washed the shit and vomit from my body.
Then, gently, lovingly almost, he patted me dry with a towel. I had still not regained any composure, so once again he took my arm and guided me to his bedroom. There, he laid me face down on the bed.
He left and returned with a tube of antiseptic cream. His touch was caressing, but he still ignited the agony in my buttocks as he applied the Savlon to my wounds.
Then, he left me alone. The pain was still excruciating. It was as if I had sat down naked on a red hot stove. Even my tiniest movement sent waves of pain crashing through my body.
I buried my head in the pillow. I could smell the hair product Peter used. My tears soaked the pillowcase.
I lay on the bed all night. In the morning Peter arrived with cornflakes for breakfast, but I had no appetite.
I looked across the room at him piteously. He smiled and I could see the sparkle in his eye had returned.
“Don’t fret mate,” he said. “It’s all over. We’re even.”
I burst into tears once more. Yes, it was over. I had atoned.
Other stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second