Grandma is a star.
School had been horrible: I'd been paddled by the headmistress for again handing in my homework late (I'd been carried away watching the ice-skating on TV). She'd given me six swats with the heavy paddle, the one with the long blade with holes in that covers both cheeks when she hits you, and it was on the bare. I'd yelled the place down and my friends had accused me of being 'wet' and a 'cry-baby' - no sympathy there.
When I got home, my eyes were still red. Grandma noticed immediately. She took me in her arms and held me tight and asked me what was wrong. I burst out blubbing all over again, and told her about the thrashing. She told me to go to my room and she'd bring some special cream. She started massaging the stuff into the purple marks on my bum. It smelled wonderful and almost at once the throb started to diminish.
"What's it made of?" I asked, but Grandma just said: "That's my secret! But shall I tell you how I came across it?" Grandma's stories are always good, so I said "Yes please."
"When I was at school - and that was a long time ago - the headmistress was very strict. I often got paddled; we all did. Then one day I got caught smoking a cigarette. I was very unlucky: it was the first time I'd tried one. One of my friends dared me to come with her behind the bicycle shed at break time and smoke one from her pack. They were Camels, I remember that. She had a joke: 'the only cigarettes with the factory on the packet.' Anyway, a teacher found us. My friend managed to get away, but I was caught and hauled up in front the headmistress.
"She went mad: you might have thought I'd been discovered having sex or something (but of course we didn't do that in those days). She told me that the next day, after lessons were over, I had to wait behind in the classroom (there was only one, it was a small school). I wondered why she didn't just paddle me there and then.
"My goodness, next day I found out why. She wasn't going to paddle me, she was going to use a birch. This was very unusual. In fact we'd never heard of anyone being birched before. So you can imagine how I felt when she produced this bunch of twigs, told me to take down my bloomers, and bend over a desk. She gave me a dozen swats, and I don't know to this day how I managed to take it without getting up. It was just awful, and afterwards my bottom looked like a lattice work! And that's when my friend who'd escaped being punished showed me how to make this cream.
"So, dear, perhaps your paddling today wasn't so bad after all. How's your backside feeling now?"
I love Grandma, she's a real friend.