The Shrink strikes back
Dr Bertram Makepeace - or 'The Shrink' as all the girls knew him - was fed up with pupils from Bexhill coming to see him with their imaginary hang-ups.
'Homework gives me a head-ache', 'I suffer from depression if I'm given Detention', 'the teachers are overloading me,' 'corporal punishment is psychologically damaging'.
Oh, that last one! How many times had I heard it from some young miss who thought she was up for the hairbrush or the cane and was trying everything to wriggle out of it.
In the past, the girls would have been expected to get on with it with a stiff upper-lip.
Then one of them, Miranda, had discovered that I'd set up a Psychology practice in town and demanded access in the same way as the girls were allowed to see a GP. It had been the beginning of the rot.
Miranda was a rather pretty Sixth Former, but a bit timid. She was due to appear before the Head Girl the following Sunday evening at what were apparently known as 'Flo's Assizes'. It transpired that, at the 'Assizes' the Head Girl was in the habit of caning anyone who'd transgressed during the previous week. Miranda had been caught with her friends having an illicit midnight feast, and she was sure that they would each get six of the best. She weepily told me that she couldn't endure the psychological tension as she awaited her fate at the weekend.
Like a fool, I fell for it and wrote to the Headmaster suggesting that she should be let off with a warning on this occasion, and since it would be unfair to punish the other 'feasters' but not Miranda, they should all be spared. The Head agreed and of course that opened the flood gates. For the next few weeks every girl who felt there was even the dimmest prospect of having to undergo a thrashing would be clogging up my waiting room when I arrived. It had to stop.
I let it be known that if I felt that a patient was 'trying it on', she would get a dose of the very thing she feared right there and then, in my surgery. I even acquired a cane and showed Jennie, my rather bemused assistant, how to use it.
And now here we are. Maggie had turned up, wailing that the hiding that she was due to get from the Deputy Head at the next Friday Assessments, for failing to improve her Effort grades, would 'psychologically damage' her. What nonsense, especially when it transpired that she was regularly spanked by her parents.
I called Jennie in, handed her the cane, and told her to bare Maggie's bottom, bend her over the consulting couch, and give her six stingers. I would wait outside until they were finished.
I doubt that I'll have so many malingerers infesting my practice in future.
Read more about Flo's Assizes and Friday Assessments in the Bexhill books