In the family
"Mummy," I said as she placed a hot buttered crumpet in front of me, my favourite treat when I got back from school, "You know Grandma told me she used to get birched at school. Did anything like that ever happen to you?"
Mummy looked at me for a moment, and laughed.
"Good heavens yes, but not just at school. Grandma often used to smack my brother, sister and me if she was annoyed with us."
"Grandma smacked you?" The crumpet was suspended, dripping butter, half-way to my mouth. I just couldn't imagine dear, sweet Grandma spanking anyone.
"Oh yes," she said, "and let me tell you she spanked jolly hard."
"Golly! What did she use?"
"Usually just her bare hand. First, she'd tell us off for whatever it was, then she'd send us to kneel in the corner. That was almost the worst bit. She'd leave us there for anything up to half and hour, contemplating what was about to happen to us. During that time she'd go and do some gardening or sewing or something. Then you'd hear the clomp, clomp, clomp of her shoes as she approached."
"Oh my goodness!" I couldn't eat the crumpet: I was transfixed by this story.
"She'd march up behind you and ask whether you were ready for your punishment. You didn't have any choice except to say 'Yes'. Then she'd lift up your skirt or dress, pull down your bloomers, and start smacking you. Always the right cheek first, then the left, then back to the right. And my, how that delicate little hand of hers could sting! She'd go on and on, no matter how much you wriggled about and begged and pleaded. Afterwards, she'd send you up to your room, and a bit later - when she thought the coast was clear - my sister would creep into my bedroom and ask to see the damage. Then she'd massage some cold cream into my bottom, and I'd try to look as though I hadn't been crying."
"Wow, Mum, that's amazing! But what about at school? Were you ever punished there?"
"Of course I was, but for goodness sake eat up that crumpet! Just at look at you, you've dribbled butter all over your dress."
"Tell me about your schooldays."
"All right, darling, but some other time. Right now I should really give you a dose of Grandma's treatment!"
Luckily, she was smiling.