Jack Wilks stood about two feet from the padded armchair. At any moment he would be bent across its back, face in the soft cushion with his bottom high for the schoolmaster to whack it with a heavy slipper.
He deserved it, of course. He knew that: he had no argument. The rule was simple and all the boys understood it. If you got less than sixty percent in a class test you got the slipper. It was as simple as that. It didn’t matter whether you were in the first form, or like Jack the Upper Sixth. He wasn’t alone. His friend Jenks had just been dealt with and Tony Wheeler was standing outside the room in the corridor waiting his turn.
Jack wasn’t a fool. In fact he was quite bright but he hated history and nothing Mr Hendry, the history master, did would change that. If he paid attention in class and read the text book he would pass his tests with ease.
But, he didn’t so here he was about to get a sore bum: again. It wasn’t the first time he had received corporal punishment and it wouldn’t be the last, it was that sort of school.
Jack looked across at Mr Hendry and only half listened to the lecture he was delivering. “Idle, blah blah; lazy. blah, blah.”
Mr Hendry wasn’t like most of the other masters at the school. He was only twenty-five and had a round open face that naturally liked to smile. Jack had seen Mr Hendry one weekend in town at a coffee shop. He was dressed in fashionable summer shorts with a flower-patterned shirt. He was with a young lady (was it his girlfriend, or wife even?) and they were laughing and joking and having fun. They seemed very relaxed in each other’s company. No one would have guessed he was a schoolmaster at crusty old St Francis Independent Grammar School.
Mr Hendry looked very different now. He was dressed in a dowdy checked sports jacket and big baggy dark grey trousers. And of course the traditional academic gown, the schoolmasters’ uniform at St Francis. Mr Hendry had learned a long time ago that masters did not smile, and he had perfected a sour expression that fell somewhere between a man who had both a pain in his stomach and a very unpleasant smell under his nose.
“Bend over the chair Wilks.”
Jack took a pace forward and eased himself into the soft padding of the chair. It was a huge leather chair with cushions at the back, the seat and even the arms. His body sank into the padding and his face rested on the seat. He put his hands forward and held on to the edge of the cushion and noticed there were two sweat stains in the shape of palms.
From his vantage point Wilks could watch Mr Hendry make his final preparation. The slipper he was to use was a size-ten white plimsoll, the type all the boys used in physical training classes. It was rare for schoolmasters to use the slipper at St Francis, the curved-handled rattan cane was the preferred weapon of chastisement.
Herr Mueller, the German PT instructor, was the only other master Jack could think of who used the slipper: and, he used it all the time. Only yesterday in gym class he had lined all the boys up to begin physical jerks and warned. “From now on, any boy who talks gets ten swats.”
Of course, the class joker Morrissey couldn’t resist saying, “Jawoll Mein Führer!” in a stage whisper.
Later that day when Morrissey showed off his marks (tight cotton PT shorts are no protection), he reckoned, “Do you know I think he enjoys whacking our arses.” It could be, and, one might suspect, Morrissey enjoys giving him the excuse.
Mr Hendry gripped the slipper tightly in his right hand and gave it a few smacks down into his left palm, to get its measure. Then Jack saw the master disappear behind him. The teenager was still wearing his green school blazer and the master had to manoeuvre it up his back a little away from the area of immediate interest.
Satisfied that the target area was clear, the schoolmaster gripped Jack’s trousers at the waist and tugged them up tight so that they performed a ‘wedgie’ emphasising the shape of his buttocks and the outline of his underpants were clearly visible.
Jack took a deep breath and screwed his eyes tight and waited for the pain to begin.
The boys often discussed whether the cane hurt more than the slipper; Jack always voted for the cane. In truth, it depended on who was inflicting the punishment. The cane tapped lightly into fleshy buttocks is unlikely to hurt as much as a size-ten rubber-soled plimsoll whacked in at great force.
Mr Hendry believed in corporal punishment and knew for it to be effective it had to be painful. So he was of the ‘whack it in with great force’ school of disciplinarians. And, that’s exactly what he did to Jack.
Six swipes crashed into his upturned buttocks. He pushed his face down into the vast soft cushion to stifle any yelps he might need to make and gripped onto the front of the armchair for dear life.
Every whack hurt him, but he had to admit, it did not hurt so very much. He was sore, but very quickly the throbbing would turn into a warm glow. His buttocks would be tender for a while and he would have some bruises to show off to his classmates, but they would wear off pretty quickly.
“Stand up boy.”
Jack was red faced from being bent upside down over the chair, but there were no tears. Despite the number of times he had been beaten at school, the experience always embarrassed him and he kept his head down to avoid looking at his punisher. He even avoided eye contact when the master handed him the punishment book to sign.
Then, with his bottom tingling, Jack was dismissed with the words, “Send in the next boy.”
Other stories from St Francis Grammar School you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second