“Take down your trousers,” he rasped. “Underpants too.” I shuffled uncomfortably. The room was cool, even though outside it was a fine spring afternoon. “Bend over my knee,” the vicar scrunched a large leather-soled bedroom slipper in his right fist. He wriggled his buttocks on the worn wooden armless chair and parted his legs a little. “I am going to spank you on your bare bottom,” his eyes blazed.
I was one of three lodgers at the vicarage – the vicar called us “paying guests”. We were all up at the university in the nearby town. Without hesitation, but also without enthusiasm, I set about slipping the braces that held my trousers aloft over my shoulders. The trousers were loose at the waist and I hardly needed to unbutton them before they slipped easily over my thighs and down to my shins.
My underwear was the modern type with drawers that were separate from the singlet. If I had worn the traditional “combinations” I should have had to strip off all of my clothes to be able to offer the vicar my bared buttocks.
I undid the drawstring of the underpants and guided them down. I hesitated, The vicar frowned. I knew what I was expected to do. This was not the first time I had been across the vicar’s knee. It wouldn’t be the last. All we lodgers got it. This Sunday it was my turn. We were on a kind of rota. It happened as regularly as clockwork. Every week. Winter, spring and autumn. The university was closed in summer.
The vicar had rules. Lots of them. We were expected to obey. Without question. People did in those days. He used to inspect our university work as well. If an essay scored less than a B-plus, out would come his whippy rattan cane. But more of that later.
I was standing a couple of yards from the vicar, my trousers and underpants at my shins. He twisted that slipper in his hand and tapped it against his right thigh. It was his way of saying, “Get on with it young man.” And I was a Young Man. I went into the vicarage aged nineteen and left three years later when I graduated with my degree from university.
I took the hint and shuffled two small steps forward so that I towered over the seated vicar. At the time he seemed to me to be an elderly man, but thinking back he was probably only in his forties. He was tall and stocky. He had spent many years before the war as a missionary in Africa, thinking nothing of trekking tens of miles through the bush to take the word of God to the heathens.
I suppose he was what we used to call “a Muscular Christian”. He certainly had muscles, especially in his right arm and upper body, as I can attest. A spanking from the vicar was an ordeal to be endured. I lowered myself across the vicar’s knee. His thighs were as thick as tree stumps and I was a few inches shorter than he was so my body made a good fit across him. I stretched my arms forward and planted the palms of my hands firmly into the thin rug. I could feel the heavy wooden floorboards beneath.
My legs dangled behind me and the toes of my feet did not quite reach the ground. Of course, I could not see this myself but like this my bared bottom was presented across the vicar’s right thigh at a perfect angle to receive the slipper. As usual, he slowly and gently tucked the tail of my shirt away from the target area so that I was naked from the shoulder blades to the shins. Then, with his left hand he gripped me around the waist and he lent his forearm into my back. I was pinned, face down across his knees. My head low, my bottom high, ready in the traditional spanking position.
I clenched my buttocks. I always did this. I supposed that this would toughen up my cheeks and defend me – at least a little – from the onslaught of the vicar’s slipper. It was as if my body was taking up some natural protection. I imagined my bum was as tough as rubber.
It was only many years later that I discovered this was in fact the worst stance I could take in such a situation. Tensing the muscles did not lessen the pain, indeed it did the exact opposite. I read in a reputable medical text book that the best way to endure pain is to relax the muscles, not tense them. I forget the reasoning now. Also, one should try to ignore the pain; that is think about something else.
Oh well we live and learn. I clenched my cheeks and stared at the worn red-patterned rug beneath my face. I felt the leather sole of the slipper tap not too gently across the centre of my right cheek. That was the vicar finding his aim. Seconds later it was lifted away. There was a slight pause and then Whoosh! Bang! The slipper flew through space and landed with an enormous wallop across my bottom. The sting burned furiously. It had been a hefty swat with a heavy slipper. Bedroom slippers back then were nothing like the light plastic things that fill the shops these days.
Before I regained my breath a second and a third wallop had my backside blazing. The vicar was old school. He believed in discipline. He believed in punishment. He believed in the Wrath of God. Bam! Bam! Bam! He fair took my backside apart. He showed no mercy. In his eyes I had sinned. I had failed to perform my household chores to his satisfaction. I had been late down to breakfast one morning and – in his mind at least – I had been disrespectful to Miss Frotherinsham, an elderly spinster in the village who regularly visited the vicar in search of spiritual guidance (and a free cup of tea).
So, I was in for it. The vicar had his little rituals. He would start by tanning the highest points of the cheeks and when the pounding made them as hard of leather he would turn his attention to the top of the mounds. After maybe fifty whacks he would go underneath. You know, the place where the bum cheeks meet the thighs. That’s the part that connects with the chair when you sit down. It meant that the pain would reignite for hours later whenever you sat.
Finally when there was no square inch of flesh left untoasted, the vicar would go for the back of the thighs. If you weren’t gasping in pain and praying (silently) for it all to stop already, you certainly were now.
I remember many times after a bare-bottomed slippering examining my ravaged buttocks in the bedroom mirror. The flesh was dark red and oftentimes I would see the imprint of the slipper emblazed time and again across my bum. The skin felt like leather and when I cupped my buttocks in my hand they seemed to be twice their normal size.
As I said, we took many spankings like that. Even when we were twenty-one. In those days you didn’t legally become an adult until you were twenty-one and we youngsters were used to being treated like children. People’s eyes pop when I tell them how we were spanked back then. “Crazy,” they say. “Why did you let him?”
The answer is: everything was different back then. We were much more deferential. You respected a vicar like he truly was God’s representative on earth. The Second World war was recently over and many men did not come home. That put enormous pressure on the mothers who had to raise boisterous boys without a father. Men of standing in the community stepped forward to lend a hand. The vicar was often called to deal with errant boys in the village, a duty he was happy to fulfil. I often returned from university just in time to see a boy hobbling down the drive, rubbing his bottom ruefully with his eyes blazing.
In the village where I grew up the local medical doctor took on this role. He often visited the homes of his patients not to offer remedies to the sick but to put his thick, wide leather belt to use.
Such was the way of life. It was how things were and we accepted it. I suppose, you could say we knew our place.
I certainly knew mine. It would never have occurred to me for a moment not to bow to the vicar’s authority. Even, when logically he had no authority over me. A case in point was in my first term at the vicarage. I was new to the university and it took me time to settle. I had attended a traditional grammar school where masters supervised every move we made. It was not like that at the university. We rarely had lectures and met with our tutors maybe once a fortnight. We were given essay titles to work on and told to go to the library and get on with it.
I don’t need to spell it out. My first essays were pretty poor. They were not failures but they would not set the world of academia alight. The vicar had already ruled that should any of we paying guests receive less than a B-plus we should be caned. Pure and simple. No discussion. No mitigation.
The vicar had a selection of crook-handled canes. He kept them in plain sight standing in an oversized vase in one corner of his parlour. You could buy these on any High Street in those days. Every classroom had one. Some schoolmasters would leave one hanging from the corner of the blackboard in easy reach should it be needed to encourage learning.
They came in all sizes and makes. The vicar’s were made of whippy rattan. Each was at least three feet long and they varied in thickness to one that was not much more than a reed to the largest that was the size of a pencil.
He asked his maid to call me to his room. She was a young woman, not much older than myself. I think she was often in the house when the vicar dealt with the village ruffians. I know for a fact she hovered outside the parlour door the time Higgins, a fellow paying guest, was beaten. Her flushed face betrayed her feelings.
She tried not to smile when she gave me the vicar’s instruction. I shrugged, affecting nonchalance, but my heart beat fast, I had by this time been spanked twice by the vicar but never caned. His beatings were legendary. I was not looking forward to this.
I had been caned before at school. Who hadn’t? It was that kind of school. My last beating happened only days before I was due to leave forever. Myself and two pals, Richardson and Jenkins, were summoned to the head’s study. The headmaster was an old stick (he and the vicar would have got on well together) and very hard on what he called “form”. To him behaviour was either good form or bad form.
The exams were over but we senior boys were expected to continue to attend school until the official leaving date. We had little useful to do and spent some of the day idly playing cricket. Oftentimes a master or two would join in. I suppose since we were eighteen and about to leave school we saw ourselves as adults. Our manners and behaviour slipped. Richardson, I know, was unabashed about smoking cigarettes behind the cricket pavilion. We joshed with the masters. Sometimes cheekily.
As I said there was good form and bad form. How the headmaster learned of our laxed behaviour I do not know. But that is as irrelevant now as it was then. So, we found ourselves standing three in a line in front of the headmaster’s desk.
I can picture it now, as if the scene was caught in a sepia photograph. Three thin, gangly senior schoolboys. Dressed in ill-fitting striped blazers and grey flannel trousers. Perched on our heads are ridiculous hooped caps. What a picture of a bygone age. If we had been first or second formers we would be dressed in grey short trousers and knee socks.
The headmaster was an ogre. A tyrant. A fiend. Boys trembled in dread as he swept through the passageways of the school, his academic gown flapping all around him. In my memory he always carried a stout curve-handled cane. Could that memory be true? Surely, not always?
We stood in terror. The headmaster was a smallish man and very wide. We had just been through a war and food and other commodities were still scarce but he appeared to eat well. His double chin had an extra chin of its own. His arms and legs were pudgy. His gown hid his hanging belly.
I can’t remember exactly what he said. It was many years ago. I do know he said it at great length. Every sentence or two he would pause so that myself, or Richardson, or Jenkins, or all three of us, could agree that we were the most disgraceful, shocking, scandalous pupils ever to set foot in his study.
The study was a large room but the headmaster’s huge desk dominated it. It seemed to me to be the size of a small paddling pool. At the other end of the room were a couple of armchairs and a low table. Several straight-backed chairs were gathered around the room. An open and unlit fireplace dominated one wall and two others had glass-fronted bookcases. Stained glass windows were on the fourth wall.
As I think I’ve made clear corporal punishment was common in those days. I think they still flogged prisoners in jail, certainly the cane was used in borstal and other institutions for juvenile delinquents. I tell you this to explain why nobody thought it strange that on one of the walls between the bookcases there was a display cabinet containing three curve-handled canes of various gradations and thicknesses. One for the junior boys, another for the middle school and so on.
The headmaster growled and heaved himself to his feet. It took some doing. Out of the corner of an eye I watched him wobble away from his desk. His destination was clear. He puffed and wheezed as he made his journey. He sucked in a lung-full of air as he reached up to the cabinet. Without hesitation he picked the longest and thickest of the three canes. My heart sank. Richardson bit down deeply on his bottom lip.
The headmaster turned. “Face me,” he growled. His breathing had eased and his authority returned. He flexed the cane menacingly between his hands. Why did all schoolmasters do this? Isn’t it the hammiest acting ever? He swiped the cane through the air to demonstrate its power. He needn’t have troubled himself. Each of us had been caned in the past by housemasters. Jenkins several times. We knew the damage a well-handled cane could inflict.
“Jenkins. Richardson. Stand and face the wall,” the headmaster barked. Relieved that they were not the first to get it my two pals hastily retreated. I breathed deeply. My heart raced, I couldn’t help it. I had no control over the inner workings of my body. I clasped my hands behind my back to steady myself. “Cap, blazer off,” he wobbled the cane as he spoke.
Despite unsteady hands I got the cap off my head and hung it on a hook on the door. Getting the buttons of my blazer undone was more trouble. “Hurry boy. We haven’t got all day,” the headmaster snarled. As far as I was concerned we did have all day. I was in no hurry to be flogged. I flushed bright red and with difficulty placed the blazer alongside the cap.
“Bend over the desk.”
It was a firm command and, of course, one I expected to be made, but I couldn’t get my legs to work. I was only three steps away from my destination but as I attempted the first of them my knees buckled. I gathered myself before I fell to the floor. The humiliation avoided, I staggered like a drunk man to the desk.
I had been ordered over the desk before. It was my form-master’s preferred positioning. My housemaster in contrast preferred a sixth-former to go over the back of his armchair. It’s all about the angle that the bum is presented, I suppose. It would depend on how tall the boy was. If you have him over the chair your swing with the cane might be in the upwards direction; if over the desk it might be downwards.
“Over the desk,” to my form-master meant laying flat on the stomach across the desk top. You had a choice of gripping the edge of the desk with your hands of folding your arms and burying your face. In the absence of further instructions from the headmaster, I lay flat and gripped the far edge of the desk. I turned my head so my left cheek touched the cold wood. Like this I had a clear view through the window. All I could see was blue sky and the lightest of fluffy clouds.
The floorboards creaked with the headmaster’s weight as he shuffled into position. My cock and balls were pressed hard against the desk. My trousers were tight across my buttocks. Clothes were still rationed so I had to wear them even though they no longer fitted well. I heard the headmaster move to stand by my left. The tip of his heavy cane touched the centre of my right bum cheek. He “sawed” the cane across the plumpest parts of the buttocks. It lifted away. I held my breath. I gripped the edge of the desk tightly. I closed my eyes and sucked my lips.
Swish! Crack! An almighty swipe slashed across both buttocks. It whizzed with great speed and force and sliced through the meat of my bum like that hot knife and butter everyone talks about. I heard it land across the seat of my stretched trousers but it seemed an age before the agony followed. I’ve never had a red hot rod pressed into my bum before but if such a thing were to happen it would not hurt as much as the headmaster’s first stroke.
My whole body shuddered. My hips swivelled. I humped the edge of the desk like I was servicing a chambermaid. The agony was so great I didn’t have the strength to cry out.
Then the second swipe cut. Lower than the first but equally as deep. I could feel a welt rising under my underpants. My head banged up and down into the desk. Water filled my eyes, blinding me. A yap like a little whipped puppy might make fractured my throat.
“Huh!” The headmaster behind me seemed pleased with his handiwork so far. “Keep still boy,” he hissed. That was easier said than done. All the breath had been knocked out of me, I was gasping for air.
The third swipe sliced me across the top of the buttocks. The headmaster was an expert. He had landed three cuts perfectly parallel. I had a burning stripe about four inches wide across my backside. I didn’t know because I couldn’t see but my pals were staring at my blistering bum wide-eyed with terror.
“Face the wall!” the headmaster raged. “Do you want extra cuts?” That was a rhetorical question, if ever I have heard one.
The headmaster gave me a full Six. Six-of-the-best we called it back then. I don’t think that phrase did the headmaster’s beating justice. It was the harshest thrashing I had ever received. Each stroke delivered with aplomb, landing with power and accuracy. The man was the best – literally, a master.
You might wonder why I let him do it. Looking back after several decades I wonder why too? The exams were over, we were going to leave school for good in a few days’ time. What would have happened if we had refused?
Nothing. That’s the answer. But, as I said, things were different back then. Deference. We knew our place. It did not even occur to any of us: myself, Richardson or Jenkins, to refuse. Our superior ordered us across the desk, so across the desk we went.
So, when a few months later the vicar summoned me to the parlour for a taste of his cane, I went without question. And I went on doing so for three more years. Over the desk. Over the knee. What strange times they were.
Picture credit: Unknown
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
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Charles Hamilton the Second