I read a report in the Brocklehurst Bugle today. It was about a young lad, nineteen years old, who stole some beer from a shop. He was up in court and they fined him something. Now he has a criminal record. As I read about him I had a senior moment, or an acid flashback or some such. If you and me were characters in a corny movie at this point the picture would go all wobbly and then fuzzy and there’d be that do-do-do-do kind of music and we’d be transported back sixty, yes sixty, years …
Rising Bollard wasn’t much more than a village back then. I was eighteen and me and my best pal Perce were inseparable. Had been since we were in our prams. I worked as a baker’s assistant at Sidebottom’s and Perce was a labourer on Arkwright’s farm. It’s a housing estate today. Has been for thirty years. Sidebottom’s is a Greggs.
So, me and Perce weren’t bad lads. We hung around the cemetery with the rest of the village idiots and tried to chat up girls. We drank horrible cheap VP wine and smoked those really rough Player’s Weights cigarettes. Do you remember them? In packets of five. They burnt the back of your throat away.
It was the cigarettes that got me and Perce into trouble. We had been working lads since we were fifteen and of course we gave our mums housekeeping money, but we were never skint. Perce had a motorbike, even then. What I’m trying to say is that we could afford to buy cigarettes, but we preferred to steal them. Don’t ask me why? Did you ever do that? Steal stuff from shops for no good reason. Just for the fun of it. Maybe to look big with your mates?
We got away with it too. Cigs and tobacco weren’t locked away like Fort Knox or the Bank of England like they are nowadays. They were on the counter. If you worked in pairs all you had to do was for one of you to distract the shopkeeper (get him to climb up his ladder and fetch something from the top shelf at the other end of the shop) and while he’s doing that the other one pockets a packet of fags. We weren’t Big Time Charlies, one packet at a time was enough for us.
Like I said we got away with it too. Until one day we didn’t. Rising Bollard was a sleepy place and we could always find a time when the shop was empty. It didn’t take long to slip a packet of fags into your pocket. So, one day I did that and was sloping out the shop but what happened but I walked slap bang into the arms of Harry Gate. Or Police Constable Harry Gate to give him his full title. He was in plain clothes, but if you’re the copper for a couple of villages like Harry was I don’t suppose you were ever off duty.
“Well, well, well,” says Harry, like all comic policemen did in those days, “What have we ’ere?” He says this as he twists my ear, like he was making some rubbish joke. “Turn out your pockets.”
It was all over in about ten seconds. Caught red handed. Bang to rights, as crooks in the films used to say. Harry didn’t have to ask our names or our addresses, Harry knew every one and everyone knew Harry. He made me hand back the cigarettes to Mr Higginbottom, the shopkeeper. I knew what was coming next.
In fact, it turned out I didn’t know. I thought he would take us into the back room and leather our backsides. He was known for doing that. He was the law. But, he didn’t do that. Now I think of it he was in his civvy clothes and wasn’t wearing the thick, heavy leather belt that went with his policeman’s uniform.
No, he didn’t spank our bare arses. He marched us the half mile or so to my house. Just my luck Pop was there on his dinner break. Well, the Old Man went scarlet with embarrassment when the village policeman turned up on the doorstep with me and Perce in tow.
“I’ll leave it to you Mr Ramsbottom,” Harry says, with a bit of a sly wink, as he bids Pop goodbye and gets back to his shopping or whatever it was he was doing in the village.
Pop nearly sank to his knees with gratitude. His son a thief. What a scandal. But Harry wouldn’t tell. They’d be no court case. No scandal for the family to live down. Pop could deal with it just the way that Pops were supposed to.
They were different days back then. Do you remember? More innocent. People took care of things themselves. “Right, you, come here,” Pop says even before Harry had disappeared down the street. Pop turns his back on me and marches into the kitchen. Me and Perce follow like obedient little puppies.
“Stand there,” he points at the wall and Perce and me meekly do as we’re told. I don’t suppose eighteen years lads would do that nowadays. Do as they’re told, I mean. Times are different. Pop picks up an old wooden chair and plonks it down in the middle of the room. He sits down, glares at me and he says, “I cannot believe it. I just cannot. Thieving. What possessed you?” He goes on like this for quite a while actually and I’ve got my head bowed in shame. He’s absolutely right, of course. He says, “It’ll break your mother’s heart; she’s not to find out about this.”
I loved my Pop. That was him all over. He loved my Mum, he loved my brothers and he loved me. He wasn’t an educated man (not many were around Rising Bollard) but he did the best that he could. “I don’t want any more of this stealing,” he says.
“No, Pop,” I says, “Sorry, Pop, I won’t do it again.” I felt such a heal. “I know you won’t son,” he says, and I can see he is very upset with me. “And, I’m going to make sure you don’t.”
I knew what was coming. It was common in those days. No one thought anything about it back then. “Thieves in this house get spanked.”
So, did you see that coming? Like I say all the Pops in Rising Bollard spanked their kids and back then you didn’t get to be legally an adult until you were twenty-one, so it wasn’t such a surprise to see an eighteen-year-old like me get his bum blistered. Tell that to kids today!
How did your Pop spank you? I know some who lost their rag and lashed out with a belt all over the back and arms. My Pop wasn’t like that. He was a gentle-man. I know that sounds a daft thing to say Gentle when he was about to spank my backside and very hard indeed. I mean he never lost his temper, he was always in control. He knew what he was doing. He had told me very quietly why he was going to spank me. Now, he was going to get on and do it.
“Come here,” Pop says and he waves his hand at his side. That was my cue to leave the wall and stand beside him. It was summer and I had on those thick corduroy shorts we used to wear. “Take ’em down,” he says. I didn’t argue. He was my Pop. I was a thief. I was glad he didn’t know about all the other times I got away with it.
“Bend over,” he slaps his thigh like I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to go. I expected it but my face burned scarlet with embarrassment. I’d been spanked before, but never in public – and never in front of my best friend Perce. I lowered myself. I must have been at least as tall as Pop, but even so I fitted over his knee quite well. How did you present yourself for an over-the-knee spanking? The only way I knew was to stretch my arms out and rest the palms of my hands on the floor. Then with my head low and my bottom high my legs were left to dangle behind me. I suppose I could have held on to Pop’s legs or maybe even covered my head with my hands.
So, there I was in position. Submissive. Letting Pop spank my naughty little backside. And it was little back then. I used to do the deliveries for the bakery and rode a bicycle for miles each day. That keeps the stomach flat and the buttocks pert. I truly believe Pop did not like spanking me or my brothers. He wasn’t a tyrant, he was a decent man trying to do his best. “I hope this teaches you a lesson,” he says as he smooths out my cotton underpants until all the creases are gone. “I don’t want to have to do this again.”
Then he starts to spank me. Me, an eighteen-year-old thief. If I told my great-grandchildren that I was spanked like that they’d fall on their backs laughing with their legs waving in the air. “You let him do that?” they’d holler.
Yes, I let him do that. It was the right thing to do. I had done wrong. I wasn’t a hooligan. I hadn’t beaten anyone up. I hadn’t robbed an old lady. But, I had stolen from a shop. There was no need to waste time and money sending me to court. Why turn me into a convicted criminal and blot the rest of my life? No. I needed to be punished and a jolly good spanking would do the trick. Pop knew that. I knew that.
So, Pop spanked me. Pop had a ritual when he spanked. He was slow and methodical. He made sure no part of my bum was left untouched. So he started across the middle where there’s most meat (even in my rock-hard bum) and when he was satisfied he had tenderised both cheeks, he went to the top of the mounds just below he back. When three-quarters of my bum was burning, he turned his attention to the soft undercurves. That’s the part that touches the chair when you sit down. It’s almost the most sensitive part of the bum. If you’ve been spanked yourself, you know what I’m saying. Well that hurt. It had me wriggling my hips and buckling my knees. Pop had to hold on tight to my waist to stop me tumbling to the floor.
“I hope I’m getting through to you son,” Pop says kindly. “No more thieving.”
“No, Pop,” I says, because I suppose he wants an answer, “Sorry pop.”
“Sorry,” he says and pauses. His body jerks like he’s suddenly remembered something. “Sorry,” he repeats, “You will be by the time I’ve finished.” Then I feel him grip the elasticated waist of my white Y-fronts. “No Pop, No!” I stutter, as he starts to tug the pants down over my buttocks. “No, sorry. Sorry!” I’m wailing now.
It doesn’t stop Pop. He has the pants at my knees. It’s summer but I feel a cool breeze waft across my naked cheeks. I also hear Perce gasp. I’d forgotten he was watching. He has a perfect view of me, submissively bent over Pop’s knee with my shorts at my feet and my pants at the knees and my arse bare to the wind. He can see everything. I mean everything. My balls, my crack and right up into the hole. My embarrassment turns to humiliation. How can I ever face my best pal again?
Pop spanks my bare bum hard. And rapidly. Whack-whack-whack. He slaps me about eighty times a minute. I feel my bum heating up. If you didn’t think a hand spanking (even on the bare) could have much impact on an eighteen-year-old, think again. My bum was glowing. Pop spanks me like this for a few minutes, then as a finale he goes for the back of my thighs. Now, if the undercurves are sensitive (and they are) the bare thighs give twice the value. I am gasping and yapping and twisting and kicking. You have to admire Pop’s stamina. He was a manual worker all his life, believe me he was a strong man.
At last (thank God, at last!) he stops spanking. He lets go of my waist and I take my chance and leap to my feet. My bum throbs and I hop from foot to foot and try to rub the soreness away from my bum. I don’t care who sees me do it. Then, I lean down to pull up my pants. “Leave them where they are,” Pop sighs, he is a little out of breath, “Stand by the wall. I want you to think about what you have done and why I have spanked you.”
I hobble over and stand beside Perce. I can’t catch his eye. The throbbing pain in my bum is easing into a warm glow. Perce shuffles with embarrassment. Neither of us wants to speak. Pop regains his breath and says quietly, “Percy, I am not your father. It is not really my job to punish you.”
From the corner of my eye I see Perce turn to face my Pop. Pop says, “I should tell him what you have done. It is for him to decide what to do.” Pop sounds sorrowful. It’s not that he wants to spank Perce, Pop’s just unhappy that our behaviour has brought him to this.
“Sorry, Mr Ramsbottom,” I hear Perce’s voice quiver. I think he’s about to cry. I blush, embarrassed for him. But he doesn’t turn on the water taps, he’s just getting himself ready to say what he wants to say. It can’t be easy. I don’t think I would do the same if I was Perce. He says, “Mr Ramsbottom, we were both in it together. You can’t spank Perce and not spank me too.”
Well! You could’ve knocked me down with a feather, because I know for a fact Perce’s Pop is probably the only Pop in Rising Bollard who doesn’t believe in spanking. He’s never raised a finger to any of his kids. Best he’d do to Perce is make him stay at home a couple of weekends and clean up the yard or something. What a pal! Perce and me. Me and Perce. Together.
“Right, Percy,” Pop calls from the chair. “I think you know how this is done. Stand there. Take down your shorts. Bend over my knee.”
And Perce did. And I got to see his bare bum and the rest of it, so I didn’t have any worries about how I was going to face him.
So, two eighteen-year-old shoplifters from sixty years ago got their backsides spanked. We both went on to have honest, respectable lives. The shopkeeper got his goods back, we were punished. The world went on.
I wonder about that lad in the Brocklehurst Bugle. Given the chance what would people like to happen to him? A sound spanking and a second chance or a life blighted by a criminal record?
Picture credit: Sting Pictures
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Also writing school stories as Scholastic here
Charles Hamilton the Second