“Go to the garage, there you will find some canes, select one and fetch it back here.”
I must have looked dumbfounded, or at least confused, because he repeated the instruction; but more slowly this time.
“Go. Fetch. A. Cane.”
Then he added, “I’m going to give you an old-fashioned English six-of-the-best.”
My name’s Alain and I’m from France, near Paris. At the time I was a nineteen-year-old French student at one of the many language schools in a town on the English south coast.
I was staying with the Martins while I was learning English at the school. The idea was that as well as studying at the school you stayed with a family and improved your conversational English.
The school also said you would learn a lot about English ‘culture.’ But, I don’t think this was the kind of ‘culture’ the school had in mind.
Corporal punishment: wasn’t this what they called the “Vice Anglais”? Or was that homosexuality?
My English wasn’t so bad and I did understand what he had said. I mean I understood what the words meant. But, I didn’t understand entirely: surely he wasn’t going to beat me with a cane?
I left the room and exited the house through a side door. It was a large house with many bedrooms, standing in its own grounds. The garage which was big enough to accommodate at least two large cars was about fifteen metres from the house.
The Martin family seemed very wealthy, so I don’t know why they took in foreign students as lodgers; they certainly didn’t seem to need the money.
I got to the garage. I looked around and spotted a stack of flowerpots. Right close to them were several cane sticks, the kind that you would use to support young plants as they grow. I picked one up in my hands. It was about a metre long and very rigid. I tried to bend it, but it was impossible. I tried one or two others, but they were all the same.
Mr Martin had instructed me to choose one, so I did and made my way back to the house.
I went into the lounge room and handed the stick to Mr Martin who had been waiting impatiently for my return.
“What the Hell’s this?” he snatched the cane from me. ‘That’s not what I sent you for.”
Now, I really was confused. Hadn’t he said “cane”? Yes, he had. He said a cane so he could give me six-of-the-best. If he hadn’t said that what had he said?
“You bloody idiot!” He was going a shade of purple now. I think he was losing his temper.
“Come here!” He reached out with his right hand and grabbed me by the left ear, pulling me out of the room and towards the garage.
He moved at some pace and I was losing my footing as he dragged me across the gravel forecourt and into the garage. I protested all the way that I had done what he had instructed me: I’d fetched a cane.
“There, you fool. I said fetch a cane.” He pointed to the far wall of the garage.
Heck! How had I not noticed? You couldn’t miss them.
There hanging on separate hooks were six canes. I knew right away there was only one purpose you could put these things to – and it had nothing to do with gardening.
Each cane was hanging by its curved handle. In France they don’t use canes for punishing naughty boys, but I recognised what these were immediately. I’d seen pictures of them in dirty magazines you could buy in town. Some of the boys at school had bought some and we roared with laughter when we saw pictures of men dressed as ‘headmasters’ thrashing the bare bottoms of young (and some not so young) women dressed as schoolgirls.
Still holding me by my ear, Mr Martin marched me through the garage to the wall. Close up I could see that each of the canes was slightly different from all of the others. Some were longer or thicker or slightly darker in colour to the others.
Mr Martin let go of my ear and reached out and took one of the canes from its hook.
He swished it once or twice menacingly in front of me.
“Is this the one you want?”
He put it back on the hook and selected another, also swishing that to test its flexibility.
“Or this one?”
I didn’t know what I was expected to say, so said nothing.
“What’s the matter? The cat got your tongue?”
I must have looked completely bemused.
“That’s what we call an English idiom.”
Mr Martin was getting angrier by the second.
“OK, let me choose.” He looked along the row of canes and took, what seemed to me, a medium-sized stick – neither too thick, not too thin.
“Let’s try this.” Mr Martin said, swishing it three times.
My eyes were transfixed on the cane as he raised it way above his shoulder and swished it down with some force through the air.
“Yes, this is a beauty. You’ll certainly remember this one for a long time to come.”
With that he gripped my ear once again and we retraced our steps back to the lounge where I was to be caned like a naughty schoolboy.
“Stand there and face me.” He pointed to a spot on a rug in front of the fireplace.
I did as I was told. With my back to the fireplace I could see the whole room. It was huge; I’d seen whole apartments in France smaller than this one room. At the far end was an expensive dining room table big enough to accommodate ten chairs. To my left were three massive padded armchairs and on the right a huge padded couch.
Mr Martin stood in front on me gripping the cane just below the handle. I tried not to look at it. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
I was completely overawed by Mr Martin. He had what they call ‘presence.’ He was probably six feet tall and well built. He must have been close to 50 years old, so was going to seed a little bit. His hair was thinning and going grey and there was thickening around the waist. But when he was in a room you noticed him.
I felt dominated by him. I’m not a tiny fellow myself. I’m probably a couple of inches shorter than Mr Martin, but I’m solidly built. If you wanted to make fun of me you might say I was the shape of an oblong. My shoulders and hips are roughly the same size and my beefy buttocks added to the illusion that I my body had no curves. But, I’m not fat, it’s all meat.
Add to that a round head and two sturdy legs and that’s me.
Mr Martin swished his cane idly as he spoke. “What have I told you about curfew?”
To cut a long story short Mr Martin was annoyed that I had been staying out late, sometimes not getting back until gone 2am.
The town had lots of language schools so during the summer months there were thousands of young people. That meant lots of bars and clubs were available to us. And, clubs and bars meant girls.
Nobody (except perhaps Mr Martin) was complaining about this. The English girls loved the foreign students and we were happy with that. Unfortunately I didn’t get much action; they preferred the Latin types, with the snake-hips and the lovely little derrieres.
Mr Martin had complained to me at least three times before about getting home late. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I had my own key and when I came in I was always quiet so as not to disturb anyone.
But, Mr Martin didn’t see it that way. He imposed a curfew: home by 11pm on school nights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
I did try to stick to the rules, but I suppose the temptation of the bars and the girls was too much for me. Last night I had left the house at 8.30pm and hadn’t returned until nearly three.
And Mr Martin was having no more of it.
He started lecturing me about the need for discipline, but I couldn’t take it in. I had no real idea what he was talking about. It was as if I wasn’t even there.
He said something about self-discipline and if you couldn’t do that someone else would have to do it for you.
It was then he swished that cane again and pointed to the couch.
“I want you to stand by the couch.” I walked across the lounge and stood in front of the couch, just as you would if you were about to sit down.
“No, Idiot! That’s not how you do it.”
He grabbed me by the ear once again and dragged me to the side of the couch making me face one of the arms.
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I stood about two feet away from the arm looking across at the couch. It was so big four adults could probably have sat on it in complete comfort.
The top of the padded arm of the couch was about a metre high and maybe 75cm wide.
“Bend over the chair,” Mr Martin ordered. He was angry and I was scared. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and I couldn’t figure out how the hell I was going to get out of this.
Could I have made a break for it and ran out of the house? Looking back, maybe I could have. No, maybe I should have, but I promise you I was utterly unable to fathom what was going on. It could just have easily have been someone else there instead of me that afternoon
Thwack!! He swished the cane bringing it down full force on the padded back of the couch. The noise was so loud surely Mr Martin’s neighbours would have heard it and wondered what was going on.
“I said bend over!” He put his hand on the back of my neck and pushed me and I fell forward across the arm of the chair. I could smell the leather as he pushed my face into the cushion and ordered me to stay still.
I didn’t know it but Mr Martin took some time to take in the view. What he saw was a beefy nineteen-year-old bent across the arm of the chair. My bottom was high over the arm and my knees were bent in slightly towards the couch, affording him a perfect target of my ample backside for the swing of his cane.
I was wearing white sports shorts, which came to about 10cm above the knee. As I bent across the arm the cotton stretched so tight Mr Martin got a perfect view of the outline of my underpants beneath. I was wearing a red patterned T-shirt and Mr Martin moved it half way towards my shoulders. It was a hot day but I could feel a breeze across the small of my back.
And, then he thrashed me. I heard the swish and heard the cane land moments before I felt the actual pain. How do I describe it? You could say it was like having a white-hot poker placed on your bum, but I’ve never had that happen so I don’ know.
I do know that he put tremendous force into each stroke. After the second one hit I threw my head back to scream out, but Mr Martin pushed my face back down into the cushion. I could taste the leather.
“Do that again and I’ll take your shorts down and we’ll start all over again!”
I believed him. Cut three hit me somewhere below the other two and I had no control: my body wriggled from left to right across the arm, but I stayed down. I could feel welts forming across my bum and the tightness of my shorts and pants across my stretched buttocks increased the sensation.
Stroke number four was higher at the top of the buttocks and somehow didn’t seem to hurt quite so much.
Five and six came immediately one after the other. I was howling, sweat ran down my back but it was my shirt front that was soaked. Then I realised I had been bawling my eyes out and tears were everywhere.
My six-of-the-best were over, but my ordeal wasn’t. Mr Martin threw his cane down to the floor and began raining hand spanks across my bottom. He was out of control, slapping at great speed and with so much force that each time his palm connected with my bum it set the thick welts on fire.
I tried to get up, but Mr Martin used his left hand to hold me firmly over the arm of the couch, while with his right he continued to crash into my bottom.
I don’t know how long he continued with the hand spanks. I didn’t pass out, but I did lose all sense of time and place.
Eventually, he let me up and with no ceremony I rushed out of the room and taking the stairs two at a time dashed to my room and threw myself on my bed, sobbing out of control.
A few weeks later, when I was making my statement to the police, I said I couldn’t explain why I had let him beat me. I was just very confused, I said.
It seems Mr Martin did this to all his lodgers. One of the students he spanked last year mentioned it to his dad when he got home (it just came out naturally in a conversation, it wasn’t meant as a complaint) and the police were called in.
Mr Martin appears in court next week. They say he could do jail time.
Other landlord and tenant stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second