Nigel Wallace, a long-since retired professor at Brocklehurst University, was at home doing nothing when the phone rang. He didn’t recognise the voice at the other end and was a little alarmed when the man said he was a lawyer and asked Wallace to confirm his identity. Was he being accused of something? Lawyers always spelled trouble.
The lawyer detected the uneasiness in the professor’s reply and sought to reassure him. “I am dealing with the estate of Mr Eric Stanhope.” That didn’t help. “I know no one of that name,” he replied, anxious to put the phone down and continue staring at the fading wallpaper in his front room.
“He was a student of yours in the early nineteen-seventies,” the lawyer continued, “I am sorry to say he has passed away. Lung cancer. I should like to invite you to a reading of the will.”
Prof Wallace wanted to retort, “Reading of the will. Is there really such a thing? I thought they only happened in crime novels. Agatha Christie. A group of strangers get called to the reading of a will at a creepy mansion and one by one they get bumped off.” He wasn’t given time to speak as the lawyer was anxious to conclude business. He gave a date, a time and a venue for the event.
“No thanks,” Prof Wallace was adamant. He had no wish to travel half way across the country on a fool’s errand. What interest was a former student of forty years ago to him? The lawyer did not press the case. He was used to such refusals. He could inform the professor of the details of his legacy at a later date. “But,” he added, “He has left a letter for you, may I forward it on to you?”
“Bah!” Prof Wallace croaked. Despite being a cantankerous old man (indeed, he had always been cantankerous) he did not add “What should I care?” The lawyer wished him good day and ended the conversation.
So it was that the next day a registered letter arrived at Prof Wallace’s home. He had to admit (to himself, since he was alone in the world) that he had become intrigued. Who was this Mr Eric Stanhope and why did he want to remember him after so many years? He pulled out a printed transcript from the envelope and settled back in his armchair. This is what he read.
“You probably don’t remember me since so many young men have passed through your hands over the years but I have never forgotten you. There is no doubt in my mind that I owe my life to you. Please don’t think I am being over-dramatic. I don’t mean that you once dragged me from a burning building or conducted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after I had been pulled from a river. I mean that it was the help and guidance you gave to me as a young student that made me the man I became.
“It was the sense of discipline that you instilled in me back at Brocklehurst that set me on the path to success. You almost certainly won’t know that I went on to build a great financial empire. This brought me great wealth and happiness. Believe me when I say without you I would not have a wonderful wife and three fantastic daughters.
“What I have just said probably puzzles you. You have never met my family and in all probability you think you don’t know me from Adam. Let me explain. When I arrived at Brocklehurst I was a bumptious eighteen-year-old. I was smug and conceited. I had come from humble origins. I had not studied hard at school but I had a knack for passing exams with minimal effort. I had no intention of working hard and expected to cruise through university. In the early weeks of my first term I hardly attended lectures, I spent my time in the bars of Brocklehurst and introduced myself to many young ladies of the town. I did not know it but I was heading for failure. It seemed that at Christmas time I would be put on the train to my home never to return. You saved me.
“I remember the first time you summoned me to your study as if it were only yesterday. You were not only a professor at the university, you held the post of head of department. I didn’t have the sense I was born with. I was self-satisfied and arrogant. What could you, an old man teach me? (Old man. Ha! Now I look back I see you were probably still in your thirties). Well, you soon showed me. As my memories flood back, my bottom tingles as I write this.
“Your speech was word perfect. You listed my faults and there were many. You were never a tall man, nor especially large. But you had a presence about you. Much to my surprise I found myself cowered. I clenched my hands behind my back. My feet wriggled with embarrassment. I showed an intense interest in the carpet beneath my feet. I had never experienced this before.
“What you did next was also a novelty for me. It was a shock. I had no expectation. I had never been called to your study before. I had heard no other student speak of their visits. I was completely unprepared. Your study wasn’t too big and along one wall were a series of shelves and cupboards. I forced my gaze away from my feet and my eyes followed you as you took the stately walk across the room. You stopped at a cupboard. Did you feel my eyes burning into your back as I stared? You fumbled in the pocket of your trousers and found a small key. This you used to unlock a cupboard door. You reached in.
“Your back obscured my view, but when you straightened up and turned back towards me I saw you were carrying what looked like a block of wood. No, not carrying; brandishing. You were flaunting it. It was a rectangle of wood with a handle and you were waving it at me. How naïve was I? I didn’t have the slightest idea what it was. It looked like a miniature cricket bat. I had never seen a spanking paddle. They weren’t so common in England. Schools might use a whippy rattan cane or a rubber-soled gym plimsoll, but not a paddle. I now know they were more favoured by our American cousins. I had never seen a cane close up, nor seen a plimsoll smacked across a boy’s stretched backside, my school did not use corporal punishment.
“I think you might have guessed I was a novice to this sort of thing. My behaviour might have given you a big clue that I was unpunished (as well as undisciplined) as a child. You approached me still brandishing the paddle and I had no doubt about your intention. You had me in your spell. I was rooted to the spot. My heart raced and my mouth dried. I am not much of a writer, but ‘like the Sahara Dessert’ springs to mind. Even today, I remember what you did.
“With one hand you picked up the straight-backed chair that usually stood in front of your desk and you plonked it down in the middle of the room. You gave me one of your steely glares. I blanched. I looked away. I could not compete with you in a staring contest. You nodded towards the chair. You spoke no words, but your message was clear. You tapped the paddle into the palm of your hand with menace. ‘Bend over the chair,’ was your unspoken command. I was bemused. You wanted to spank me. Could this be true? Was I dreaming? Me, an eighteen-year-old adult. I didn’t say any of this, of course. I daren’t. At that moment all my bluster and arrogance had melted. I was timid. You were my master. I would not say that I was your ‘slave’, but I was your subordinate. You were in charge. Your word was law. What could I do but obey?
“I wanted to obey. I intended to obey, but again my innocence let me down. I had never been spanked. I had never seen a boy spanked. Bend over. But, how exactly was this done? Bend over the back of the chair? Lay my stomach on the seat of the chair with my arms ahead of me and my legs dangling behind?
“You read my mind. ‘Stand to the front. Bend over, place your hands on the seat of the chair,’ you commanded. Of course. It was that simple. I did not stop to think that now was my last chance to flee the room, to run helter-skelter back to my digs and lock the door behind me. I did not contemplate what the consequences might be if I refused to obey. Refusal was not an option. I stepped up to the chair, then hesitated for a moment before leaning forward as you had instructed.
“It felt mighty strange, bent over a chair, offering up my backside to an older man to spank with a wooden paddle. I don’t suppose I had ever felt so vulnerable. I didn’t know it at the time, but realised later that you took account of my lack of experience in such matters. I wore heavy jeans. They fitted snugly and showed my buttocks. But, denim is a thick material and offers quite a protection against any spanking. You allowed me to keep my jeans on. I am thankful. I think on that first time a spanking on my underpants – or God forbid, on the bare! – would have been an embarrassment (no, a humiliation too far).
“You delivered six, very hard swats across the lower part of my buttocks. I suppose that’s what was known as six-of-the-best back in those days. Each one landed on top of the previous swipe. My bum was on fire. You got me right on the ‘sit-spot’ and I couldn’t sit comfortably for the rest of the day. Only later, was I to realise what an expert spanker you were.
“My bottom wriggled and writhed as the paddle hammered across the seat of my jeans. Your strong left arm pushed into my shoulders and forced me to remain bent over. Otherwise, I would have been jumping up and down, rubbing my bum, hopping about like some demented Red Indian.
“I don’t think I cried, but my eyes would have been pretty moist by the time you finished. You let me stand and then you lectured me some more about my future behaviour and the consequences I faced should I be summoned back to your study.
“It took the better part of a week for the bruises to clear completely. Each time I went to the shower I was reminded of the penalty for bad behaviour. I resented you. I could go so far as to say I hated you. How dare you treat me like a little kid. I was eighteen, legally an adult. I fumed a lot, but I didn’t miss any of your lectures for the rest of the term. But, I was young and stupid and I liked my beer. And, the girls. Although I was afraid to upset you again I had less concerns about my other lecturers. That’s what got me in trouble again.
“Looking back, Mr Lowry had every right to report me when I failed to complete his essay, even after he had granted an extension on submission. I didn’t think so at the time. How I hated you when I received that second summons to your study. I knew what to expect. You had made it clear enough. Of course, I only had myself to blame. I was going to wear my football shorts and swimming trunks and a couple of pairs of underpants under my jeans. My jeans were always tight and when I tried it was a battle to get the zipper to close. When I looked in the mirror my bum was massive. Just as well I abandoned that ruse, considering what you made me do in your study.
“You gave me a right telling off, but – and I’ll never forget this – you said you thought I was bright and intelligent and could make something of myself. But I had to pull my finger out (my words, you were too eloquent to speak like that) and concentrate on my work. Nobody had ever said that to me before. No one at school, and certainly not my parents. It gave me something to think about.
“Naturally, you didn’t leave it there. You made a return visit to that cupboard. This time the paddle you choose was larger and heavier. It was some kind of dark wood and it was so highly polished it reflected the light from the ceiling. I can still see the way you held it in your hand, demonstrating its power. How many holes were drilled into it: six or eight? I can’t quite remember.
“Then, you had me take down my jeans and spread-eagle myself across your desk. Oh boy! Luckily, I was only wearing one pair of pants. We wore tiny briefs in those days and they hardly covered my buttocks. Most of the underside of the cheeks were bare to the wind. You exploited that. I don’t suppose you could have left me in any greater pain if you’d made me take my briefs down.
“Twelve swats with that paddle across the half-naked bum. Oh how I howled. I just about absorbed the first two, but by the third I was gripping the edge of the desk for dear life. My head butted the desktop. My legs kicked. My hips swivelled and swerved. I almost bit through my bottom lip in my failed attempts to stop myself yowling. They must have heard me down in the street below. I’m surprised someone didn’t burst into the study to see who was being murdered.
“By the time you let me climb back into my jeans my bum was throbbing raw. It felt like it had swollen to twice its natural size. I have never sat down on top of a blazing coal fire, but if I ever did it would not hurt as much as that paddling.
“You gave me time to calm down and before you sent me on my way you told me again how talented I was. That you had confidence in me. That you wanted me to achieve. That night as I lay on my side in my bed, trying not let my savaged buttocks brush against the mattress, I thought about what you had said. As I said nobody had shown such faith. I realised then that you were not a bully. You had power over me, but you didn’t exploit it. You spanked me for my own good.
“I worked hard that term and passed the exams and was doing well. It looked like the paddling had worked. Then, I fell off the wagon. It was a girl, of course. Or more truthfully, girls. I was a good looking lad back then with an easy charm and a sexual appetite. I spent too much time in bed (but not alone) and not enough in the library. I failed a couple of mock exams.
“I remember how you shook your head with disappointment. I can’t explain how that stabbed at my heart. You told me how proud you had been when I bucked up my ideas and passed my exams the previous term. You said you had hoped I had turned a corner. I was on the straight-and-narrow path to success. Alas, no! I had veered to the side of the road and broken down. I needed maintenance. A maintenance spanking!
“You were no longer my professor. Is it too fanciful to say you were a father figure? You certainly showed you cared more than my real dad. What you did next confirmed this. You were back at that goddam cupboard and this time you brandished a small block of wood that was no bigger than a paperback book. I blinked in disbelief. Compared to the whopping paddle you used to take my backside off last time, this was puny. I almost smiled with relief. This one wouldn’t do much damage. I had forgotten what an expert you were.
“You had finished lecturing me and without a further word you took that chair I had been ordered to bend across on my first visit and once more you placed it in the centre of the room. I was waiting for your command ‘Bend over’, but you had other ideas. You sat on the chair and made yourself comfortable before with an imperious click of the finger you instructed that I should come and stand beside you. I did so. You peered at my feet and then ran your eyes up my legs, stopping when you reached the fly of my jeans. ‘Take them down,’ you said. My heart skipped. Only then did your intention become clear to me.
“This was not to be a professor-student spanking, something delivered at arm’s length. At a distance. Dare I say this was to be more personal, more intimate? It was to be like a loving father with his erring son. My hands shook so much I fumbled with the clasp at the top of my jeans and I couldn’t get a grip on the zipper. At last the front of my jeans were open. They fitted so tightly that they would not easily fall to my feet and I had to roll them down my legs. I was now standing by you wearing only a shirt and underpants. I did not feel shame, nor embarrassment and certainly not humiliation. I felt respect. My respect for you – and dare I say it, your respect for me? You had my best interest at heart. I deserved this spanking. It would pull me up sharp. As you had already told me, it would put me back on the straight-and-narrow path to success.
“I had never been across the knee of an older man. It is a more submissive position than being across a chair or spread across a desk. My body was close you yours. I could feel your breathing. My stomach dug into your thigh and my chest rested against your legs. I didn’t have a view of myself but I sensed that our bodies fitted together perfectly. I spread my arms ahead of me and rested my palms in the harsh carpet. My nose was inches from the ground. My bottom was raised at an angle of about forty-five degrees which allowed my legs to dangle behind me with my toes hovering above the floor. When I moved my head I could see under the chair and look at my own feet encased in denim.
“I felt your body move. You had taken hold of my shirt and gently pushed it up my back until it was scrunched at my shoulders. By now you must have had a perfect target. I braced myself for the heat of the paddle. But, you were not quite ready. You rested the paddle on the small of my back. With both hands you gripped the elasticated waist of my underpants. Ha! I’ve read in books where a character was said to have ‘gasped with surprise’. I had always thought that was a stupid expression. Not anymore. I gasped. I inhaled a great mouthful of air and I held it there. What were you doing? Of course, I knew full well what you were doing; that was what made me wheeze so!
“Slowly, with some ceremony, you peeled down my underpants. My stomach was resting on your thigh and you struggled to get them over my buttocks. I lifted myself slightly and soon they were on their way to rest at my knees. ‘Ha!’ you said, ‘You weren’t expecting that! I hope you realise how seriously I take this.’ I did not reply. I think my body tensed. Did my buttocks clench? Did they harden like two rubber balls? You picked up the paddle and I felt you tap it against the highest point of my bum cheeks. You took your aim and you let fly.
“You had to take a firm grip of my waist to keep me in place. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand why I was being spanked. I deserved it. I needed it. I was prepared to submit to you, but my body had other ideas. My head was low and my bottom high and you had positioned me so that I couldn’t get my hands behind me to protect my poor, exposed bottom. There was nothing I could do but wriggle and kick. It did me no good. Did my protests spur to on to greater deeds? Did you spank me harder and longer because of it?
“That was the last time you spanked me. There was no further need. You had transformed me. I worked hard for you. It wasn’t that I feared further paddlings. I certainly did not welcome them. But, the spankings were incidental. What drove me was that you had faith in me. You cared. You wanted me to do well. The spankings were supplementary.”
At this point Prof Wallace let the letter drop onto a nearby coffee table. He hauled himself from his chair and edged his way into the kitchen where he flipped a switch and waited for the kettle to boil. He busied himself finding tea bags and sugar. He opened the fridge and carefully tested the milk for freshness. Then, with his tea he returned to the front room and picked up the letter once more. He stared at it intently as if it could answer the question on his mind. Who was this Eric Stanhope? Which one had he been? The professor didn’t have the least recollection of these events.
Picture credit: Unknown
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