My Poor FriendI attended a boy's grammar school in the early 60s where corporal punishment was used as a means of enforcing discipline on a regular basis. The school modelled itself on public schools where ritualistic canings were still used and where conditions were spartan and discipline was rigidly applied.
When I was about 12 or 13 I had a best friend called Douglas who while not a bad boy did seem to get into trouble more than most. Although he did his utmost to escape punishment he was quite philosophical about the outcome when he was caught and just treated it as the price to pay for breaking the rules.
I can vividly recall one day in the changing rooms before PE noticing that he had some swollen wheals across his bottom which had clearly been put there after a visit to the headmaster. He explained that he had been involved in some misdemanour and that he had been given 4 strokes earlier that day. I sympathised but he shrugged his shoulders indicating that although it had hurt at the time and was still very sore it was just one of life's tribulations. I can remember being shocked however when he told me that he had been awarded a detention by the PE teacher the previous day and had forgotten to turn up. We both knew that a slippering was the inevitable outcome for such a memory lapse and that was going to be extremely painful on top of the caning he had already received.
Slipperings were administered across thin shorts using an old size 11 rubber soled plimsoll by an extremely fit and strong PE teacher using all his strength. Even Douglas was apprehensive about his already sore bottom receiving a sound walloping from the PE teacher but he knew perfectly well there was no escape. I knew from personal experience how much the slipper hurt and how it left a raised welt across both cheeks of a barely protected backside.
After the class had entered the gym the teacher instructed us to sit in a semi circle facing the front. He then called Douglas to the front and outlined to the class how he had failed to attend the detention and what the outcome was going to be. Douglas looked crestfallen but quite ready to accept his punishment. I must admit I glanced at the back of his shorts and felt some sympathy for his poor backside which was about to suffer.
An interesting twist then happened when the PE teacher offered Douglas the option of receiving 2 strokes of the slipper while still serving the detention that evening after school or to waive the detention completely in exchange for receiving 2 extra strokes of the slipper. For Douglas's sake or rather his bottom I hoped he would choose the first option but to my and I think the rest of the class surprise he elected to have 4 strokes of the slipper.
I clearly remember the PE teacher leaving the gym for a moment in order to fetch the slipper and an unnatural silence falling over the class as poor Douglas awaited his fate. After a few moments the PE teacher returned carrying the implement of punishment and I remember poor Douglas gently stroking the back of his shorts as if to console his behind for what it was about to endure.
He was then instructed to bend over with his bottom pointing towards the class. His shorts barely covered his backside and were so tight would offer him virtually no protection against a well applied plimsoll. After a short pause the PE teacher lined up the plimsoll rotated his body through 90 degrees and delivered an almighty smack to Douglas's bottom. I could just see Douglas's face which grimaced but to his credit he didn't move. After a short time the second stroke was administered with equal force and this time could not prevent a gasp of pain from leaving his mouth. How I wished his punishment was completed as I knew how much his bottom must be hurting. The PE teacher showed no compassion and the third whack was administered with the same force as the previous two. Douglas was now gritting his teeth trying to steel himself for the fourth and final whack. It was not long in coming and seemed to be delivered with even more vigour than its predecessors. After a few moments Douglas stood erect and clasped his hands to the back of his shorts. The class looked on in complete silence only too aware of how much poor Douglas's bottom must hurt. At that point he was sent back to the changing room and excused the remainder of the lesson and I can only say he looked completely distraught as he tooks short steps out of the gym.
It was a very subdued class during the PE lesson and afterwards Douglas was not subject to any teasing or banter but only sympathy from his classmate. I asked if I could look at his punished backside to which he agreed and I was shocked to see two swollen red/purple cheeks with a raised whelt ascross the whole of his bottom. The marks from the cane had almost been obliterated. By this point he had recovered his composure although he eyes were still moist he implied that he was pleased that he would not have to serve the detention. Nevertheless considering the state of his backside it was a high price to pay.