It was the tradition at Bexhill: a telling-off for the first offence (unless it was for something spectacularly serious, like smoking), but a spanking for the second.
Trisha had been warned about talking during Assembly the previous week, only her second week at the school. Now the Maths teacher, Mr Desmond, had reported her again for whispering and giggling to her neighbour while the Headmaster gave his address. The HM had left for a conference immediately after Assembly, so it was to his deputy that Trisha was told to report after lunch. She could hardly eat a thing and she was trembling as she waited in the corridor outside Mr Ainsley's study. There were three girls ahead of her: two Fifth Formers and one tall and elegant Sixth Former. They were called in one by one. The first two got six lashes of the tawse but the Sixth Former was caned, receiving 12 strokes - she must have been caught smoking. By the time the girl emerged red-eyed and rubbing her bottom, Trisha's knees felt like jelly.
The Deputy Head called her in and she stood nervously in front of his desk while he read out the charge and asked her whether she had anything to say. Afraid that she might burst into tears if she spoke, Trisha just shook her head.
"Very well," said Mr Ainsley. "I think you know what to expect." He opened a drawer in his desk and reached in, but instead of pulling out a hairbrush, as she had expected - the dreaded 'Stinger', of which Trisha had heard so many tales - the master held up a heavy-soled slipper.
"All right, Trisha, knickers down to your knees, please, and bend over."
She did as she was told, her heart in her mouth. As she seized her ankles, she felt her skirt being lifted up and laid across her back. Mr Ainsley's hand gently but firmly pressed her down. The cool leather of the slipper was resting against the crown of her cheeks.
"You're going to get six. They'll sting, but if you move out of place, you'll get extras. Are you ready?"
Trisha's mouth was dry. She couldn't speak, so she just nodded her head. The bunches of hair on either side shook gently. She felt him raise the slipper.