Sometimes these days I rub my eyes with disbelief with much the same vigour I used to rub my backside. That’s when I remember my days at St. Tom’s. In the housemaster’s study (again). In pyjamas, touching toes for six-of-the-best .
You tell kids that today and they think you’re mad. Eighteen years old and bending over for the cane. It happened all the time back in the nineteen-sixties. St. Tom’s was a middling public school (that is a private fee-paying school) with delusions that it was among the elite. It dripped “tradition”: traditional curriculum, traditional games, traditional religion and, of course, traditional discipline.
St. Tom’s was an enclosed boarding school; boys only of course. There were rules for everything: do this; don’t do that. Break the rules, touch your toes. There was a small town close to the school and it was an illegal excursion to the cinema there that got me my last caning.
Do you remember Sophia Loren? She was the Italian sex-kitten film starlet of her time. There was a film and I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it now, where she stripped off her clothes. Not all the way of course, but for we sex-starved boys of St. Tom’s a flash of thigh would have been enough to fuel self-abuse for weeks.
Naturally, we had to see it. So taking our lives (or at least our bums) in our hands three of us snuck off one Saturday. We got spotted by a master coming out the cinema. Had he been inside watching the film himself? If so he was a jolly rotter for turning us in. The cinema was out of bounds at all times, not just when steamy sex movies were showing.
Our housemaster Mr. Camden had a ritual. Looking back after fifty years it seems a pretty rum one to me. He would keep a list of boys who misbehaved during the and call them to his study at lights-out, just before bedtime. That way he ensured we arrived in our pyjamas. Naturally, a whippy rattan cane would sting much more without heavy trousers and cotton underpants as protection.
So, that night, Richard MacDonald, Brian LeFevre and myself took ourselves down to the study. Camden was a strange cove. He looked to us like he was a hundred years old at least, but he stayed on at the school for another twenty-odd years after I escaped so he must have only been in his forties. He was a stout man with a ruddy complexion (was he a drinker?) and was incapable of talking in a normal voice. He always sounded like he was addressing a parade ground full of troops.
I think it was Richard who knocked on the door. We waited for the customary order to “enter” and shuffled to stand in front of Camden’s desk. It was a ramshackle affair, not too big and always covered in piles of exercise books. He must have spent half his waking hours marking. I remember the room was cold although it was early summer. Parts of the school supposedly dated back three or four hundred years so it was a draughty hole.
We stood hands behind backs, eyes downcast at our slippered feet, in the classic naughty-boy pose. We knew how to play our role in the drama that was about to unfold. We also knew how it would end.
I had been caned countless times (who hadn’t?) it was that kind of school. It always hurt; that was after all the point of the exercise and I never really got used to it. I think the embarrassment of bending over and offering my backside to a master much larger than me was as bad as the pain. I wasn’t like some of my pals (Richard was one) who took it entirely in their stride. Some actually welcomed the cane. It was some kind of badge of honour. I know when we were lower down the school we would make marks with ink on our snake belts, one for each time we were caned. Some years later I met an old school pal who had formed a club where men dressed in school uniform and relived their canings.
Camden jawed us a bit. Did we know the cinema was out of bounds? Yes, we did. That was it really. We coughed to the crime and all that was left was the punishment.
Camden had a tall thin cupboard in one corner of the room. I have never seen these cupboards anywhere but in a school study. What possible use could they have except to house an array of punishment canes? He had several of different lengths, thicknesses and densities. His pride and joy was a Malacca which was no longer or thicker than the plain rattans but it had a powerful density. It was as springy and whippy as the others but with ridges every four inches or so along its length it would leave a boy’s backside heavily bruised. If a master chose to put an extra bit of beef into a swipe he could easily cut flesh.
The Malacca was for recidivists, those for whom a “normal” caning had proved ineffectual. It was also reserved for senior boys like ourselves, Camden supposing that we were too tough even for the thickest rattan or dragon. We watched impassively, but with pulses racing, while Camden fished a key from his trouser pocket, unlocked the cupboard and reached inside. The rattling of several canes seemed to echo around the room. He turned to face us holding the Malacca between two hands.
Another of Camden’s rituals was to flex and swish the cane through the air. He was testing its effectiveness as if he had never encountered it before. He was also trying to intimidate the boy standing before him, demonstrating just how much damage the rod could do to a boy’s stretched buttocks. I wasn’t intimidated and I doubt if my two fellows were either; we just wanted to get it over with.
Camden soon obliged. “Stand there,” he waved towards a wall dominated by bookshelves. We did as instructed. “Hands on head” (another ritual) “Face the bookcase.” The only uncertainty was how he would cane us. Sometimes it was the traditional “touch your toes”; otherwise we would drape ourselves over a piece of furniture. The desk was always too cluttered to be used but on occasion I had presented my bum over the back of an armchair or by gripping the seat of a hard straight-backed chair.
“Stand out LeFevre,” Camden hollered. I supposed the chaps back in the dormitory would have heard. Not that it would matter. It was no secret that we had been summoned to the study and every boy at the school knew that could mean only one thing.
Brian turned on his heels and with hands still on his head, he lumbered into the centre of the study. Richard and I turned to watch. There was nothing so fascinating as watching a fellow get a bowing. Brian’s face was pale. It was difficult to control such things, the body makes natural reactions in times of stress. Camden flexed his cane and then pointed to a spot in the middle of the carpet, “Bend over. Touch your toes.”
Brian sucked down a lung-full of air and slumped forward. He was a thin, wiry boy and when he bent over his pyjama bottoms rode up across his buttocks. Camden swished his cane and gently sawed it across the centre of Brian’s bum. Suddenly he stopped. “What’s this?” he shouted. “Padding?”
I exchanged glances with Richard. Padding? A chap never put padding down the back of his trousers. It was cheating. Not the done thing. A bad show. Besides it was bloody impractical if a boy was only in pyjamas. “You are wearing underpants, LeFevre. Stand up boy.”
Underpants. Hardly “padding”. But to Camden they were both the same. Brian straightened up, his pale face now quite red. “Take down your pyjama bottoms.” It was a straightforward command. I noticed Brian’s eyes watered. He chewed on his bottom lip. I thought for a moment he would protest, perhaps he wanted to but thought better of it. There would be no point. Camden was in charge and we all knew that well.
Brian’s fingers trembled as he stumbled with the drawstring of his pyjamas. He had trouble undoing the knot but eventually succeeded. He let go and the bottoms hurtled to his feet, rather like clown’s trousers do. He started to bend forward once more. “Not so fast,” Camden barked. “Since you have attempted to deceive me. Let us have the underpants down as well.”
I saw Richard’s eyes blaze. Bare arsed. That was unheard of. And it was so jolly unfair. Brian hadn’t tried to use padding. Most of the chaps wore underpants under their pyjama bottoms. Matron might not think it very hygienic but it was immensely practical: it stopped our erect cocks from poking through the fly of the pyjamas. And believe me when we were eighteen it was impossible to stop our dicks saluting at the least provocation.
If looks could kill. Brian shot Camden a dirty scowl, but still he did not complain. I watched him hitch his thumbs into the waistband of the pants and slowly guide them over his buttocks until he released them at the thighs and let them slither to his ankles at their own speed. I tried not to gape. There were lots of times at the school when we saw one another naked, but we went around pretending not to notice. It was impossible now not to see Brian’s long, thin cock. It was awesome, quite the largest I had seen in my life until them.
Feigning nonchalance Brian bent down once more. I had a side-on view so was unable to see his crack or hole but, of course, this would have been in Camden’s view. How utterly humiliating it must have been for Brian. The housemaster took his aim, raised the cane to above shoulder height and with a slight turn of his body swiped it across Brian’s buttocks. The boy gasped and his body shook under the impact, his balls bounced up and down. Almost immediately a deep pink line emerged across the pale flesh where the cane had landed.
Number two fell a little lower than the first and the next a little higher. Camden was an expert caner. The Malacca landed precisely where he intended. It helped that Brian was also an expert canee (if indeed that is the correct word). He took his lashes as stoically as circumstances allowed and did not move around unduly.
After three strokes Brian had a band of hurt roughly two inches wide across the centre of both buttocks. Camden slashed another three into that patch. Six welts throbbed across Brian’s bum. It had been an exemplary thrashing. Brian opened and closed his mouth silently. The agony would have been intense, but he managed to utter not one sound. On command he rose, pulled up his pants and pyjamas and resumed his position by the bookcase. His eyes were damp but he wasn’t blubbing. A chap never blubbed during a caning, he would never hear the end of it from his pals.
Camden called my name. I walked forward and when instructed I bent over. It is more difficult to touch your toes than perhaps people imagine. It puts a tremendous strain on the calf muscles. I grabbed my ankles instead and with my knees bent slightly my bottom jutted out at a decent angle to receive the caning. I felt Camden take hold of my pyjama jacket and move it an inch or so up my back and away from the target area. I shuddered; not from fear (as I said I had been in this position before) but from a cold draught that came from I know not where. I had a close up view of the pale blue carpet beneath my feet. It was new, a modern concession. Not so long previously the floor had been bare boards with a tatty rug.
I closed my eyes and shut my teeth as I felt the cane tap against my stretched pyjamas. The housemaster was finding his aim. I knew it would hurt. A great deal. That was the point of it. No point in caning a boy’s backside unless it hurt. I understood that. I heard the cane swish through the air and the crack as it connected with my hard bum. It seemed like ages before I felt the burning pain. Air escaped through my clenched teeth.
As with Brian’s caning, the second landed. Whop! Just below the first slice. My buttocks were blazing. Camden was such an expert with the cane. His beatings were awesome. I tried to ignore the pain searing from my arse up and down my legs. From somewhere outside the study I heard the sound of footsteps on creaking boards. Then they stopped. Some one was outside the door. Probably, another boy waiting his turn.
Number three connected with the top of my thigh. I must have yelped, it would be impossible not to. Camden had missed his aim, maybe he wasn’t such an expert after all. I stopped myself leaping to my feet and rubbing away.
“Keep still boy.”
I was soaked with sweat. My temples throbbed every bit as much as my bum. My blood pressure was off the scale. The housemaster paused, allowing me to settle. He took better aim this time. The fourth went high, on the top of the curves, well away from the thighs. My bum felt like it was on fire. Camden was putting all his beef into this, he had beaten carpets with less force.
Bang-Bang! The final two cut deep into my meaty bum, in quick succession. I had no time to absorb the first until the second landed, almost on the same spot. It was over. I stared down at the carpet, already the intense pain was dissolving. I knew that soon it would become an awesome throb before turning to a scorching glow. I waited for permission to stand. I had no time to reflect on the incongruity of an eighteen-year-old allowing himself to be thrashed in such a way by a schoolmaster. In those days one didn’t legally become an adult until twenty-one, maybe we were still conditioned to think of ourselves as children.
I rose and resumed my place at the bookcase. MacDonald offered Camden his arse and a couple of minutes later we were on our way back to the dorm. to display our wounds to an admiring crowd.
Picture credit: Sting Pictures
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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