All we schoolboys despised The Gaffer: from the very first time he joined The Academy to take over as Head of Sixth Form.
And, the loathing quickly turned to hatred when he demonstrated he could beat our backsides black and blue whenever he felt the need.
He was an ugly squat man and some of the boys joked he was as wide as he was tall. We hated him especially the first time he opened his mouth and revealed to us that he was from the northeast of England. When I look back now I realise we were odious snobs, but I blame the school for that: The Academy catered for the sons of the high professional classes, and even some from the minor aristocracy, and we were taught we were superior to the lower orders.
We knew The Gaffer was definitely not “one of us” the moment we heard him speak. To us boys the northeast accent, or ‘Geordie’ as it was known, belonged to coal miners and shipbuilders. We immediately nicknamed him ‘The Gaffer’ which we supposed was what working class people called their boss.
The Gaffer joined The Academy with what today would be called ‘an agenda.’ The headmaster had told him the boys of the sixth form were slacking and that we were disregarding rules and forgetting we were schoolchildren.
He was right up to a point, we were aged eighteen and even though in those days you didn’t legally become an adult until you were twenty-one, we considered we had already reached that status and should be treated accordingly.
The headmaster and The Gaffer saw it differently: whatever our ages, we were schoolboys and we were expected to behave like that. More so, we were senior pupils and it was up to us to set an example to the juniors.
The Gaffer knew he had to stamp down on our behaviour and do it quickly if he were to make any impact. So, right from the start he had the school rules printed out and posted on the noticeboard in the sixth form common room. In a lecture, he told us we were expected to follow the rules to the letter and any deviation from them would result in punishment: corporal punishment.
He let that last statement hang it he air a bit. None of us were surprised by this: corporal punishment was used frequently at The Academy. There couldn’t have been a boy in the whole school who hadn’t been slippered, tawsed, paddled or caned at least once in his career. The boys who were borders, that is they slept at the school at nights and weekends, were the most vulnerable: there were so many rules that could be broken.
Imagine, you were, say, a sixteen-year-old boy in the boarding school; you were expected to be in your ‘house’ by 9pm and start preparing for bed. Failure to comply with this rule would get you three strokes on the seat of the trousers from the housemaster. How different to the ‘day boy’ who would go home to his family at the end of the afternoon. How many parents did you know who would order their teenaged son to bend over the armchair for the cane, if he wasn’t in bed at nine?
We sixth formers knew all about corporal punishment and The Academy but we supposed that by the time we reached the age of eighteen our backsides would be safe from the cane.
The Gaffer wanted to make an example: he didn’t mind who the victim was, but one of us would have bend over in front of the whole sixth form and be punished severely – to encourage the others.
We were on our very best behaviour: we arrived at school on time and stayed all day (lessons weren’t timetabled for the whole day so the day boys usually drifted off home early). We stayed in school during ‘play time’ and avoided the back of the gymnasium; an area which the whole school knew was reserved for sixth former smokers.
The Gaffer became quite frustrated: based on our recent performances he supposed he could catch one or other of us out and deliver the public thrashing as planned without delay.
Eventually, he went seeking his victim and picked one of the ‘teenager poets.’ Most schools have teenager poets; they are the older pupils who think they are intellectuals and spend most of their days sneering at everyone else. They grow their hair a little too long and don’t knot up their neckties correctly. And, they criticise the ‘petty rules’ of the school, while (usually) ensuring that they themselves abide by them.
McCain was such a teenager poet. I don’t know if he literally wrote verse, but he was a ‘sneerer’ and had spoken out (but not in the earshot of the man himself) against The Gaffer and his new regime.
Most of the boys in the sixth form disliked McCain: he was just too full of himself. We were after all the people he spent most of the time sneering at: especially those of us who declared an admiration of sport or the popular music of the time.
So, when The Gaffer announced all the sixth formers must meet in classroom 21at the end of the school day, we might have been delighted to hear McCain was up for a public beating: but, in the pecking order of school life, we hated The Gaffer more than we did McCain.
We entered the classroom in hushed tones, like we were at church for a funeral. In other circumstances we schoolboys would have been delighted to see one of our own beaten, observing and later criticising how well he took his whipping. A boy who showed any sign that his beating had hurt, or worse he cried, would be teased mercilessly for the rest of the term.
The room filled quickly and we waited for the stars of the show, McCain and The Gaffer to arrive. The classroom was one of the largest in the school with room for about thirty boys. We sat at light brown wooden desks; some were connected together so that pupils sat thigh to thigh on benches. Other desks were single-seaters. All of the desks sloped and could open upwards so we could stash away our schoolbooks, or any contraband we didn’t want the schoolmaster to see. Along the top of the desks ran a groove for the pupil’s pens and pencils and each had an open inkwell.
I knew from experience (my own painful experience) that a teenaged boy could bend himself across the desk, down the slope, to present his backside at a perfect angle to receive the lash of the master’s cane. Some of the desks had thin wooden legs and the pupil could grab onto these for dear life during the beating, which is what I did when Thompson, the maths master, had beaten me when I was in the fifth.
All the pupils’ desks in the front of the room were occupied so The Gaffer would have to make McCain lay across the master’s desk for his caning. It was quite small and McCain was tall for his age, so he should be able to reach across it with his stomach flat on the wooden top and his arms outstretched ahead and his hands gripping the far edge.
The door opened and The Gaffer entered, with McCain, head bowed, shuffling a couple of paces behind. We all stood to attention as the master entered, as was the custom at The Academy.
Even with his head lowered, McCain towered over the schoolmaster. He was quite a thin, wiry boy and already he had grown to at least six feet tall. Otherwise, he looked like a typical schoolboy, dressed in white shirt and grey trousers. His green and yellow stripped school tie had never been knotted so tightly in his life. McCain might have declared himself to be a ‘Bohemian,’ but his appearance belied this. He was always dressed immaculately; his mother took a great deal of pride in her son’s clothes. His shirt sparkled and a person could cut their finger on the sharp creases in his trousers and shirt. Only his scuffed black shoes gave any indication that he might not wish to be the model The Academy schoolboy.
The Gaffer stood in front of the blackboard and easel to start a prepared sermon. He recounted the rules of the school, why they were there, why they should not be broken, and the special responsibilities sixth formers had to the school. He spoke without notes, but was word perfect: he had spent a lot of time rehearsing this scene.
The sermon, nearly over, he moved on to the main event of the afternoon: the punishment. All we boys had talked about nothing else that afternoon and we expected to hear the instruction: “Bend over that desk.” McCain would do as he were ordered, The Gaffer would (with some ceremony no doubt) lash six-of-the-best into McCain’s bum. The boy would be dismissed and we could all go home.
It was only then that I realised The Gaffer did not possess a cane; surely he hadn’t forgotten to bring one with him. I scanned the room to see if one had been left out for his use. In some classrooms a demonic master might have his whippy cane on display, perhaps hanging by its curved handle from the blackboard easel, where every boy would be able to see the consequence of his bad behaviour.
One master who taught me in my first year even had a selection of canes standing in a basket in the corner of the room.
I couldn’t see a cane anywhere: but I didn’t realise The Gaffer had other ideas.
Having warned us all that corporal punishment was his preferred method of correction and that any one of us could expect such treatment in future, he stepped behind the master’s desk, picked up a large straight-backed wooden chair and manoeuvred it into the space between the pupils’ desks and the blackboard.
Then he sat down. The Gaffer was squat when he was standing and even smaller seated. He had to manipulate his academic gown so that he didn’t tread on its hem. To accomplish this he moved his buttocks from left to right and pulled his robe up his shins. Eventually, he was satisfied so he spread his feet about three feet apart and turned to look at McCain whose eyes had not left the floor from the moment he entered the classroom.
“Take down your trousers and bend over my knee,” The Gaffer said, as if it had been the most reasonable request that any schoolmaster might make of his eighteen-year-old pupil.
There was an astonished intake of breath from the class. Then you could’ve heard a pin drop. McCain’s was startled. His eyes shot from the ground to look at The Gaffer. His face was full of contempt. He was as astounded as his classmates. I could read his face as easily as any book. He was thinking: have I heard correctly? Take down your trousers. Bend over my knee.
Yes, he had heard him all right. That’s what The Gaffer had said. I could see McCain was thinking it over: should he do as instructed? What would be the consequences if he did not obey? Of course, today, if a schoolmaster tried to spank a pupil in this way the police would be called, but in those days the schoolmaster was the law and he could get away with anything – short of actually flogging a boy to death.
The Gaffer slapped his left thigh to emphasis his point. “Bend over boy.”
McCain avoided eye contact with the rest of us. He had made his decision: he had no choice: like any schoolboy he was required to do as his master dictated – without question. He was as embarrassed as hell as he unbuckled his belt and released the top button at his waistband. In no time the fly zipper was undone and he pushed his grey school trousers down to his knees, to reveal the tightly fitting gleaming white Y-front underpants he was wearing underneath; the front bulging. I wouldn’t have been the only boy in the room to have admired McCain’s package in the showers after a gym class. There was no doubting he was a young adult and not a little boy.
His face was scarlet as he turned side on to The Gaffer and obediently lowered himself across the man’s knees, placing the palms of his hands flat down into the dirty floor tiles. He kept his head high so that he could see straight ahead, but all the while avoiding eye contact with the rest of us. He seemed to be thinking: this can’t really be happening to me. I am not really bent across The Gaffer’s knee with my trousers at my knees waiting for him to spank me on the seat of my underpants.
McCain was far too tall to fit comfortably across The Gaffer’s knees, a sight that emphasised to me the absurdity of the situation. The lanky eighteen-year-old schoolboy was about to be spanked as if he were a seven year old.
The Gaffer could have chosen a more suitable target, I thought as I caught sight of Trinder sitting in the second row of the classroom. Trinder was as undersized for his age as McCain was over. Trinder had a medical condition (was it something to do with hormones?) and he looked about fourteen years old. I knew he could get away with paying the child fare on the trolleybuses. His short-back-and-sides haircut, bright brown eyes and almost completely hairless body stressed his child-like qualities.
The Gaffer should have taken Trinder across his knee: at least he would have slotted into place and the spectacle in front of me would be more visually pleasing. Perhaps, Trinder even deserved a spanking for dodging his fares.
While I was imagining that it was the delicious Trinder across the Gaffer’s knee, McCain did something I thought was extraordinary. Realising he was too tall for this spanking position he bent his knees in towards The Gaffer’s body. This had the effect of raising his bottom higher on the man’s right leg so that his buttocks pointed right up at him. He was saying: here you are, I am submissive, you can do with me what you want.
McCain closed his eyes tight and waited for the spanking to begin. But The Gaffer kept us waiting. He smoothed out the boy’s white cotton pants so they fitted across his globes like a second skin. (McCain’s mother would be so pleased at their cleanliness. In those days people would say you should change your underpants every day in case you were involved in a traffic accident. Now, at The Academy we would have to say: change every day in case you have to go over The Gaffer’s knee for a spanking.)
Then, daintily with both hands he took the tail of the boy’s crisp white shirt and moved it half way up his back. Then, without warning he slapped his hand down into the right cheek. And, then again into the left cheek.
McCain filled out his underpants very well. As each slap smacked into him I could see the fleshy globe absorb the impact. The Gaffer kept up a steady rhythm: one cheek then the other. McCain gasped a little, but I don’t suppose the spanking was hurting much. At worst he would feel a glowing tingle. A spanking by hand on the pants was never going to be too painful for an eighteen-year-old boy; not like it would be with a hairbrush, or a slipper or, say, a belt.
The Gaffer continued smacking alternate cheeks: slap, slap, slap, slap. Red marks were forming below McCain’s buttocks where some of the whacks missed his underpants and connected with bare flesh. They certainly looked raw.
The Gaffer gripped the elasticated waist of the underpants. McCain’s closed eyes popped open as he realised what was about to happen. The class held its collective breath: no that would be an indignity too far. Surely, he wouldn’t.
The Gaffer must have had second thoughts and released his grip and continued smacking into the cotton-covered buttocks. McCain seemed visibly to relax. I saw him bend his head lower so that he could see under the chair to look at his own feet as if he was trying to be both the recipient of the spanking, but also a spectator.
The Gaffer increased the strength of his spanks and the speed, until they were raining into his cheeks rapidly like machine gun fire. McCain gasped a little: he was feeling this. Soon, though The Gaffer realised his hand was hurting more than the teenager’s buttocks (probably a lot more).
He stopped, but still held on tightly to the boy at the waist: he was going nowhere. The Gaffer looked at the classroom full of boys; this was the first time he had done this since McCain went over his knee.
The Gaffer had a plan. He spotted Fanshaw, one of the day boys sitting at the front of the class. “Do you have a plimsoll in that gym bag?” He nodded to a cloth bag resting close to the boy’s feet. Did I see a slight smile cross Fanshaw’s lips as he understood the importance of the question?
Fanshaw had been observing McCain’s predicament at close range. From his vantage point in the front row he had a perfect view of the boy’s upturned bottom and sturdy legs.
A little too eagerly, I thought, Fanshaw untied the drawstring and delved into his gym bag and brought out a white rubber-soled gym plimsoll. He had the triumphant air of a diver who had just brought up treasure from the bottom of the sea.
“Bring it up to me boy.” The Gaffer had not released his grip on McCain, but the teenager managed to turn his head enough to witness his schoolfriend leave his chair and hand over the heavy slipper that would, surely, now, be used to take off his backside.
The Gaffer held the slipper tightly at the heel end and squeezed the slipper hard. His grip was so forceful his knuckles were turning white. McCain squeezed his eyes tightly shut once again and clenched his buttocks in readiness for the onslaught. I suppose McCain hoped the clamping of his cheeks would somehow lessen the pain he was about to feel, but as every naughty boy who has ever been spanked or beaten knows as a ploy this does not work.
“Relax boy,” The Gaffer meant McCain should offer up his bum as before. Instead, McCain’s whole body seemed to stiffen as the first of a dozen quick slaps of the slipper crashed without stopping into his underpants.
McCain growled audibly. Until now he had taken his smacking in silence, occasionally gasping or wheezing. There had not been too much pain: his bottom tingled a little and the hurt such as it was had turned quickly into a warm glow that was actually quite pleasant.
The blows from the plimsoll were altogether different. The pain was instant from the very first smack. By the time the first dozen had spread across his cheeks and the top of his thighs, he was wriggling his body and kicking his legs in a desperate unsuccessful attempt to dodge the slipper.
He was breathing heavily now and his face was as scarlet as I supposed his bum must be. Then came another dozen: delivered as hard and as rapidly as the others. Half way through McCain gave up all attempts at self-control and he yelped like a little puppy.
Sweat poured off The Gaffer. He might have wished he had taken off his heavy waistcoat before ordering the boy across his knee.
The schoolmaster held McCain firmly around the middle cutting off any possibility of escape and then launched into the third dozen. Pinned as he was securely facedown over his tormentor’s knees, the boy could do nothing except try to soak up the considerable pain. He pounded his hands into the floor tiles but this did not stop The Gaffer ripping up his backside.
McCain’s humiliation was completed when tears flowed down his cheeks and his little yelps turned to huge swallows and gulps. My classmates and I looked on mesmerized. When would this end?
Only The Gaffer knew that and he slapped down another dozen across the fleshiest parts of McCain’s cheeks. From where I sat it looked like his underpants had stuck to his bum. This severe over-the-knee little boy’s spanking had made his buttocks sweat.
Now, The Gaffer was gasping almost as much as his victim; the schoolmaster was not a very fit man and could not maintain such physical effort.
The final twelve slaps whacked into the underpants and it was over. Both The Gaffer and McCain were spent.
“Up boy,” The Gaffer wheezed.
McCain did not need telling a second time. He leapt to his feet and facing away from us the eighteen-year-old’s fingers probed first the uncovered portions of bare bottom and then under the thin cotton material of the white briefs, eventually he bent down to pull up his trousers, affording me a marvellous opportunity to see his tight bottom. The thighs were red raw and McCain would have difficulty sitting comfortably for some hours to come.
The show finished quickly. The Gaffer dismissed McCain and he shot from the room and ran from the school. In silence the rest of us left the room and went our different ways.
The next morning at gym class we all admired McCain’s bruised buttocks. In the past I had seen a few bottoms after they had been caned, but nothing looked this bad. The red marks I had seen as he pulled up his trousers were now a blueish-black and the whole of his rear end from the top of the buttocks beneath the spine, across the fleshy globes and into the thighs had the texture of leather. It would take more than a week before the bruises cleared completely.
We told him he had taken the spanking well (although he had howled the classroom down and I shouldn’t be surprised if he could be heard all over the school) and we called The Gaffer “a Geordie bastard” and so on.
It was the first and last time The Gaffer demonstrated his power and authority by administering a public beating, but it wasn’t the last time he beat a sixth-form boy, as I can personally testify. But that’s another story.
Another series of school stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second