I had just turned twenty and was a few weeks into my first “proper” job – as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. I couldn’t believe my luck when a colleague at work told me there was a room for rent in a large detached house in one of the town’s leafiest suburbs.
I was gobsmacked the first time I saw The Avenue; what palaces! I had been brought up in a tiny council flat in inner London; what did I know about big bedrooms, conservatories and gardens? My landlord was some kind of accountant and he lived in a five bedroom house with his wife and her sister. Everything about the place said “Money”. I didn’t stop to wonder why they needed to take in a lodger. None of my business, I suppose.
I got my second shock of the day when I met my landlord for the first time. He was in his mid-forties and had thick black, greased-back hair. But his most notable feature was a black, neatly-trimmed beard. I thought he was Gerry Adams, at that time a suspected IRA terrorist. The sight of him put the fear of God into me. This fear somewhat diminished the moment he opened his mouth. For instead of ranting with a heavy Irish brogue, he spoke quietly in a very upper class English accent, as befitting a chap who had attended one of England’s more exclusive public schools.
I was far from the perfect tenant. I came and went at all hours and was often late down for breakfast. I was untidy, inconsiderate of others and frequently came home drunk. But worse than all this; I rarely paid my rent on time. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to pay – although cub reporters are not paid much – it was because I couldn’t be bothered. It didn’t occur to me that the money I paid helped to keep “Mr. Adams” and his family afloat.
Things came to a head one morning. In his usual softly-spoken manner Mr. Adams told me I must pay my overdue rent by the end of the day. Did I promise to do so? I genuinely don’t remember, I really wasn’t bothered what he wanted.
I would pay later for that lack of attention because what I missed him saying was, “If you don’t pay tonight I am going to cane your backside very hard indeed.”
I was late home that day, I had covered a meeting of the local council and gone onto the pub after. I had been drinking, but I was far from drunk. I let myself into the house as I always did and was surprised when Mr. Adams glided from his magnificent lounge and stood in front of me, blocking my path to the stairs and my bedroom.
“Do you have my rent?” he whispered. I had to crane my neck forward to catch his words. He repeated himself believing that I had not heard. His face fell when I confessed I had not. I had totally forgotten his request. He sighed deeply and wrung his hands together as if he carried all the troubles of the world on his shoulders.
“Do you remember what I said would happen?” he murmured. I think I shrugged my shoulders or crinkled my face, because I simply had no idea what he was talking about. His eyes flamed behind his round spectacles, his eyebrows shot heavenwards.
“Well,” he spoke slowly and calmly. “You know what I shall do.”
I didn’t. I started to say I would go to the bank first thing in the morning and sort out his rent.
“Too late, you have made promises before,” his crisply-enunciated words made me shiver. “You need a life-lesson young man.”
I had no idea what a “life lesson” was, but I was about to find out. He glided across the passageway to a tall thin cupboard. It looked like a grandfather clock but without the dial. He opened a door and reached inside. I thought our conversation was over and started towards the stairs.
“Wait where you are,” he spoke more sternly now and I swirled around to face him. My heart skipped a beat. In his right hand he held a long, thin, crook-handled cane. I was transfixed. I had never seen anything like it before. Canes were still legal in schools but I had been to a progressive comprehensive and corporal punishment was unheard off. Parents around my way tended not to spank their children, so I was now entering uncharted territory.
Mr. Adams wobbled the cane in front of him and then sliced it through the air. It was thin and whippy but made a terrific whoosh! as it went. He waved the cane toward the lounge room. “Go in there,” he said quietly. I stood my ground, my heart was thumping. Of course, now I understood Mr. Adams’ intention. He wanted to beat me with his cane. I couldn’t understand my emotions. I seemed to be equally frightened and excited at the same time.
Up to that moment I had never given corporal punishment a thought. There was a campaign running at the time to have the cane banned from schools. I had no opinion one way or the other. I had never thought about being caned nor did I wish to cane another person.
“I said, go into the lounge room,” Mr. Adams repeated himself softly.
I suppose I could have refused to obey. It would mean leaving the house and finding other lodgings. That wouldn’t be so bad. A colleague at work knew guys who were looking for someone to join them in a house share. I wouldn’t have to live in a cardboard box.
What I did next profoundly changed my life. I took a deep breath to try to calm my raging heartbeat and walked into the lounge. The room was dimly lit by a standard light in one corner, I hardly saw Mrs. Adams and her sister lolling on a sofa. They stood as I come in; it seemed they were expecting me.
Mr. Adams followed me into the room. He had the cane tucked under his arm, looking something like a sergeant-major. I stood in the middle of the room. It was about the size of a five-a-side football pitch. One end was dominated by a dining table and chairs. The other end had a huge glass-fronted cabinet with china ornaments. As well as the sofa there was a heavy leather Chesterfield couch, two padded armchairs, what we used to call a pouffe (but probably don’t today) and a coffee table.
Mr. Adams looked around the room as if he had never seen it before. He seemed to be searching for something. At last his gaze settled on one of the padded armchairs. He slipped the cane from his arm into his hand and gripped it just below the crook handle. He pointed with it to the chair. “Stand over there.”
I hesitated. There was still time to flee. Mrs. Adams and her sister moved across the room and settled by the table. Clearly, they were going to stay to watch the fun. I wiped my sweaty palms on the legs of my trousers and walked forward and stopped a couple of paces from the chair.
“Closer, boy, closer,” Mr. Adams sounded exasperated. I shook my head silently admonishing myself, of course I wouldn’t be able to bend over the back of the chair from this distance. I shuffled forward. For the first time that evening Mr. Adams noticed I was wearing a light-grey suit. “Take off your jacket, hand it to Mrs. Adams.”
She hurried over to me with alacrity, holding out her hand to receive my jacket. She had to wait. I couldn’t get my fingers to work. My brain told me I wanted to do this – to take off my jacket and hand it over – but my body seemed incapable of obeying. At last the task was completed. I looked down at the black leather armchair. Only then did I wonder how this was done. How did you present yourself for a caning? Where did the hands go? What about the head?
One question took my breath away. Was this done trousers up or trousers down? I would soon know.
“You need to lower your trousers,” Mr. Adams whispered, “But you may keep your underpants on,” he added, kindly. My head was buzzing as (again with fumbling fingers) I unbuckled my belt. I screwed my eyes tightly, I couldn’t believe this was happening. Me, a twenty-year-old man was about to take down my trousers, bend over a chair and offer up my backside to my forty-something landlord for a caning as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
I unzipped and the handful of coins I had in my pocket from the pub plus gravity sent my trousers hurtling to my feet. I wore white underpants “tighty-whities” which were very fashionable at the time. The fitted me snugly and I was very conscious of the bulge in the front, which was a little larger than it had been five minutes ago. I had on a smart dress shirt with a tail that covered my buttocks and the backs of my thighs.
“You should lift up your shirt please and then bend over the back of the chair, thank you,” Mr. Adams sounded almost apologetic. I gathered up the cotton shirt and pulled it chest-high so that my flat, hairless stomach and lower back was uncovered. I hesitated for a second time. I needed to gear myself up for this. It would take some bravery on my part to go through with it. I saw the two ladies move behind me (for a better view presumably) as I fell forward over the chair. The leather was cold against my naked flesh and I shivered.
The issue about where to place hands and head resolved itself. I reached forward and gripped the far end of the soft seat cushion. My face stared down at a throw coloured in browns and yellows. I waited with anticipation for the first stroke to hit. But was it eagerness or fear?
Mr. Adams was not quite ready. He tapped the end of the cane across the centre of my bum. I could feel the cotton underpants had pulled tightly over my submissive bottom. I was presenting my landlord with a terrific target. The pants lifted and separated my cheeks creating a deep ravine between the two. In those days I was still fit and healthy, this was before years of pubbing with journalists and contacts took their toll. I had a thirty-inch waist and firm round buttocks.
Mr. Adams had found his aim; he lifted the cane away from my bottom. I gripped the cushion hard and concentrated on the autumnal pattern on the throw. My bum quivered. “Relax, relax,” Mr. Adams cooed. Then came the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. The whippy rattan whistled through the air before landing on the soft underside of my rear end. Air hissed through my clenched mouth, a strip of pain throbbed across both cheeks. My shoulders shuddered in sympathy.
That was my first-ever stroke of the cane. Mr. Adams gave me five more cuts. I was due six-of-the-best. My bum wriggled and writhed. My feet stomped into the plush deep-piled carpet. I hissed and yelped. Sweat soaked the back of my neck. My ears popped as blood thundered through my body.
Then it was over. “You may stand now,” Mr. Adams had replaced the cane under his arm by the time I stood and turned to face him. My head was light and spinning. Is it adrenalin? I had taken drugs before (and many since) but nothing compares to the high I get from a good thrashing. “You should get dressed,” Mr. Adams was kindness personified. I suppose he must have seen the erect cock pushing against the front of my tight pants. Before gingerly I pulled my trousers up I explored my sore seat with my two thumbs; my bum was corrugated. When I explored the damage later in my bedroom I found six dark welts running almost parallel across both buttocks. I had to conclude that Mr. Adams was an experienced and expert caner.
I lodged with Mr. Adams for another six months and you will not be surprised to hear I was often late with the rent. It nearly broke my heart when my work sent me to a newspaper 100 miles away to further my training and experience. But, I soon discovered The Whacko! Club, and that is a story (or stories) for another day.
Picture credit: Unknown
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second