Get to bed. There’s no supper for you tonight. I’ll be up to see you later.
How many times did I hear those words growing up? Way too many, that’s how many. I must have had a hole in my head. I never learned. I was about twenty the last time Dad made one of those visits to my room.
That was the time just before at last I left home. I had outgrown it years before. I left school at fifteen and went to work in a wine gum factory. Really, I kid you not. My first job was standing alongside the conveyor belt as all the sweets came along and picking out the deformed ones. I was allowed to eat as many as I liked. I soon got sick of that job.
I suppose I thought I was all grown up and not a kid anymore. Dad had other ideas, of course. His house; his rules. I don’t think I was any different from my friends and neighbours. It was just the way things were. Know your place. Do as you’re told. Behave yourself. Or else!
The Or Else in Dad’s case was a heavy two-tailed leather taws. God alone knows where he got that from. It was kept in a special drawer all on its own in the sideboard in the living room. It was old and worn. It could’ve been a hundred years old for all I knew. It must have been a family heirloom.
It saw some action in its time. I was the youngest of three boys and from time to time Dad felt it necessary to remind us of the fact – we were boys, not men.
Today, if a Dad took a leather strap to his son’s backside the social workers would swarm all over him. I’d bet a penny to a pound he’d end up in magistrates’ court. Back in the day, of course, it was all perfectly natural. Expected. Just the way things were.
As an adult now and again I’d meet men who resented being punished as a kid. Whether with a cane at school or the belt (or whatnot) at home. They took a grudge with them wherever they went all their lives. Not me. I have no complaint. I know Dad was doing what he thought best. Trying to bring up his sons right. So we would become fine, responsible adults.
I guess he succeeded. After the wine gum factory I had a load of jobs. In those days we didn’t have burger bars or fast food places, but I did all kinds of unskilled jobs. I worked on a building site for a while. Not as boring as wine gums, but bloody back-breaking.
I raised a family – three girls so I never had to tan their backsides – and now have grandchildren, with the first great-grandchild on the way. If I’m honest I owe it to Dad. He taught me to know my place, behave myself. Obey orders. It served me well.
I don’t suppose I thought much of this at the time. Dad wasn’t a tyrant, he didn’t flog the living daylights out of us. He just wanted us to get the message. I should have known better by the time I was eighteen or nineteen but I had outgrown home. I wanted to be my own man, to come and go when I wanted to and to hell with Mum’s routine. She said I treated the place like a hotel; coming and going when I wanted to.
She’d moan at me about it and I’d give her a bit of lip back. Wrong thing to do. We call it ‘disrespecting’ these days. Then it was just called ‘bloody rude.’ I don’t think she ever uttered those immortal words, ‘Wait until your father gets home!’. There was no need. The moment the words tumbled from my mouth I knew what the future held. Nineteen or not.
Dad drove a lorry for the local council, he and a gang went round emptying bins. As the driver he never got his hands dirty and that gave him status among the team. He was somebody. At home he was the king of his castle. It was a dank, dark hole. A terraced house like millions across the country. It was draughty in winter and airless in summer. Beetles everywhere. Home sweet home.
I waited irritably in the living room pretending to read the Daily Herald. Reading wasn’t my thing, so mostly I looked at the pictures and tried to work out why the comic strips were supposed to be funny. Dad would be home by seven. I paced the room. The smell of boiled cabbage drifted from the kitchen. All our houses smelt of cabbage; morning, noon and night, come summer or winter. My stomach churned. I hadn’t eaten since dinner time, but I knew there’d be none for me this night. Not when Dad got home.
It was getting gloomy, but Mum wouldn’t let us switch the light on until it got properly dark. She didn’t have the pennies for the metre. I looked half-heartedly out of the window. It was beginning to rain heavily, the cobbled streets were wet, puddles formed in dips in the road. Any minute now I would see my Dad turn the corner of the street. My stomach knotted, not with hunger this time.
It was the waiting that was the worst. Don’t ask me why, I knew full well what was going to happen when Dad got home. I had been through this before. Many times. And in my stupidity it would surely happen again.
At last I saw him wobbling down the road. He had a rocking gait. He was rotund to say the least. Fat. Today we would probably call him obese. He wore old faded denims; this was long before jeans became the fashion status of the young. Back in the day they were just cheap, sturdy clothes worn by working men. He had a black donkey jacket, made of serge with a big leather patch on the shoulders and half way down the back.
I heard the door open and dad call to mum. It was a nightly ritual. Dad telling us all that the master was home. Best behaviour everyone! I couldn’t see him but I knew he would be hanging up his jacket in the passageway. Then he would saunter toward he kitchen. He wouldn’t go in, that was Mum’s domain. He would lean on the doorframe, point his nose in the air like one of the Bisto Kids and say, “Eh love, that smells grand!’ Same thing every day for nigh on fifty years.
On this night I heard voices. They were making conversation. They weren’t the types to talk to one another much. Broody or companionable silences were the order of the day in my house. I knew what they were talking about. I sucked in a couple of deep breaths, getting myself ready.
Suddenly Bang! the door to the sitting room flew open and dad filled the doorframe. His three chins wobbled as he shook his head. He peered at me through pig-like eyes. I always suspected he might need glasses. He frowned and then scowled. “Get to bed. There’s no supper for you tonight. I’ll be up to see you later.”
He rolled backwards to give me space to squeeze past him, the stench of his stale sweat cloyed in my throat. It was Thursday and bath night was Sunday. Wordlessly – for there was no point in arguing with the man – I shuffled up the stairs to my bedroom.
We had a ritual Dad and me. We both had roles to play when it came to spanking. They didn’t need to be spelled out. Get to bed, meant exactly that. It might only be just gone seven, but I was expected to be in my pyjamas and in bed by the time Dad arrived to deal with me. Nineteen years old and sent to bed for a spanking at seven o’clock. What would my grandsons say if I told them that?
My bedroom was small and sparse. There was one small worn rug over decaying wooden floorboards. The bed was tired and rickety, springs stuck out through the mattress. An old Tall Boy stood in the corner alongside a chest three drawers (one of them empty). We didn’t have much in the way of clothes and stuff in those days. The only other furniture was a small armchair with wooden back and arms and soft cushions. It was old and cheap but it did offer some comfort, although that night the use Dad would put it to would be far from comfortable.
I washed myself, brushed my teeth and jumped into bed. There was a chill in the air but the room had no heating. I pulled my blanket up over my body and waited. It would be some time before Dad visited. I could smell supper, Dad would have his feed before he came upstairs. He might even roll himself a cigarette and have a look at the Herald before coming up to do his duty.
I wished he would get it over with. We were a simple family. We didn’t hold grudges. I misbehaved, Dad spanked me, we carried on. The world did not end. He had made his point.
At last the door flew open, Dad was incapable of opening a door quietly. He stood a little unsteady and stared at me. I looked away. I didn’t need to see. I knew in his right hand he was holding the heavy leather taws. He mumbled something about me and my Mum. I didn’t take it in. I didn’t need to. He was right and I was wrong. Matters had to take their course.
“Get out of bed,” he was quiet and orderly. There was no need for drama. He knew I would obey. Without question. It was just the way of the world. He nodded toward the armchair. I pushed my blanket away from my body and swung my legs over the side of the bed. I was young and athletic and was on my feet in a trice.
Dad took hold of the handle of the taws. The business end was about twelve or fifteen inches long. Each tail was probably an inch wide and half inch thick. It could pack a hefty punch. I never knew where Dad got that leather strap. I’ve since discovered that the taws was mostly used in Scottish schools. We lived in London, and I don’t think anyone in my family had ever travelled north of the border. Why would we? Who would want to?
He held the taws in his right fist and tapped the tails into the palm of his left hand. He was biding his time, waiting for me to prepare myself. I shivered – more with cold than fear, I was an old hand at this and knew what to expect. I faced the back of the chair. I towered over it. There was a time when I would have struggled to reach high enough to rest my stomach on the apex of the chair. That’s how often over the years I was made to present my backside to Dad’s strap.
I made sure my back was facing Dad before I untied the drawstring and loosened my pyjama bottoms. Dad might have considered me to be still a child but my cock and balls told a different story. I helped the pyjamas slip over my buttocks and held them at my thighs while I leaned forward over the back of the chair. I think I succeeded in hiding the sight of my privates from Dad. Once safely in position, I let go of the pyjama bottoms and they duly slithered down my legs and rested in a puddle at my feet.
Dad took hold of the tail end of the pyjama jacket and moved it further up my back so I was naked from the shoulders to my feet. A cold breeze wafted across my bare flesh; goose bumps formed in a vain attempt to warm my body.
I felt Dad tap the heavy strap across the very centre of my bum cheeks. He was taking aim. I don’t know if you’ve ever been spanked on the arse with a taws, in fact it isn’t really suited for the task. In Scotland they whack kids across the palm of the hand, not the bum. The taws is heavy and quite solid, it doesn’t whip like a belt does. It is easier to aim a taws up and down on outstretched hands, rather than whack it in at an angle across buttocks quivering over the back of an armchair. It would have been far more effective if Dad had made me lay face down on the bed and stood next to me to tan my backside that way. Of course, I wasn’t going to tell this to him.
I wriggled over the back of the chair, trying to get comfortable. I know that sounds crazy, but it really helps if you are properly positioned. Head low, bottom high. Feet a little apart firmly planted on the ground (that’s more difficult than it sounds if you have bare feet on wooden floorboards, you can’t help slipping). I gripped the soft seat cushion and waited. I was ready to take anything Dad had to throw at me.
The leather taws moved away from my bum, there was a pause, just a beat or two, then a whistle as the strap flew through the air. Then, SPLAT! It connected with great force across my naked cheeks. I couldn’t see (of course) but I felt a deep red mark form across the once creamy-white flesh. It burned like Hell. Don’t let anyone tell you that a spanking doesn’t always hurt; that it’s something you can get used to. It doesn’t matter how many times I was tawsed by Dad he always sent shockwaves of pain coursing through my arse and up and down my legs. The only difference was that as I got more experienced in receiving whackings I was able to control my reaction.
I gripped the cushion, closed my eyes, shut my teeth tightly and let Dad get on with it. Number two landed lower than the first. The third went higher. Now, I had a burning strip across my bum about four or five inches wide. And it was burning. I don’t know about you but I know from painful experience that a whippy rattan cane like they used at my school would cut deep into the flesh (even when wearing trousers and underpants) and leave an intense biting sting that throbs for ages. Long after the headmaster has sent you on your way.
The leather taws is an altogether different type of pain. It doesn’t cut into you, it slaps, covering a wider area than the cane with a single stroke. It burns like billy-o and the soreness stays for a while but it doesn’t have the powerful after-sting of the cane. You can get the strap on the bare bum delivered by an athlete with super muscles in his arm and it still won’t come close to the agony of the cane. Well, that’s my experience anyway.
I heard Dad wheezing hard, trying to get his breath as he landed another three strokes across my backside. Just as I had become an expert at receiving a spanking, so he was well-practiced in delivering one. I was, after all, the youngest of three boys. My bum was well alight by now. I knew that when I inspected the damage later I would see the outlines of the tails embossed in my flesh. Each line would be scarlet and by the time Dad had finished his work the edges of some of them would be turning blue.
I sucked in a lungful of air and waited for the next three. As I said there was a ritual to this. Dad whacked three strokes at a time, then took a rest. He was no brute, he laid on each one with full strength, but he was never a monster. It wasn’t his intention to batter me and leave me beaten and blooded. He just wanted to make his point.
The next three landed well low; across the back of the thighs. That had me dancing; stomping my feet up and down on the cold hard wooden floor. My knees buckled and my back arched but I held on tightly to the cushion. My eyes blazed almost as much as my bum and there were getting a bit watery. I wasn’t about to cry, but this is the sort of thing your body does when it’s in pain. The eyes water, the heart pounds, blood rushes through your arteries. You want to cry out. I couldn’t control my heartbeat (who can?) but I did stop myself crying out. It had been many years since I hollered or cried during one of Dad’s spankings.
There was another longer pause. I turned my head slightly to see what was going on. Dad was dabbing his flabby face with a dirty grey handkerchief. His whole body was drenched in sweat, he was in a bad way. I stared down once more, waiting for the next three. They would be the last. A round dozen, twelve strokes, that was always Dad’s way. Like I said, it wasn’t a battering.
He let fly. I think the sweat must have got into his eyes because they landed all over the place. One even went north to south along the length of one cheek. Everyone knows that’s a waste, the most efficient stroke always goes from left to right, preferably on the fleshiest part of the buttocks that connects to the chair when the naughty boy attempts to sit down.
“All right,” Dad coughed a little. “Don’t make me have to do that again.” With that he wobbled from my room leaving me to rub away the hurt. Each whack was intensely painful as it landed but the agony quickly turned to a dull pain and by the time Dad was back in the sitting room listening to the wireless it had gone completely. If I touched my bum in the places where one or more strokes had overlapped I could reignite the pain but by now it was no more than a dull throb.
I had no mirror in the room so I lay face down on the bed and by twisting my body I got a close up look at the damage. Some bruises discoloured my bottom but I knew by morning they would probably have gone. By the time I went down for breakfast there would be no trace. Mum and Dad would never talk about it again (they never did after a spanking) and life would carry on as before.
I never really learned not to treat the house as a hotel or to back-chat Mum. It was just as well for me that shortly after my twentieth birthday I got called up for National Service and after that I never lived at home again.
Picture credits: Unknown
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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