Worst moments 7. Roxy's first caning
"Well, I'll never forget my first caning!" Roxy was lounging in the depths of an armchair. Her name isn't really Roxy - it's Jemima or something like that - but we all call her Roxy because, quite frankly, she is such a dumb blonde.
Honestly, I don't approve of 'dumb blonde' jokes, but in Roxy's case I just have to make an exception. Anyway, she wanted to join in the conversation about corporal punishment which we were having in the Sixth Form Common Room.
"I mean, at home," Roxy continued in her posh upper-class voice, "if me or my sister or my brother needed to be punished, one of the maids was told to go out and cut a switch and then take us up to our bedroom and deal with us. I think they used to rather enjoy it: they were sort of getting their own back on us. But I'd never been disciplined here at Bexhill until last term.
"Well, as you know, I'm a bit of a chatterbox and I'd been trying to interest Cynthia, who shares my desk, in a new fashion magazine which I was hiding under the maths books. That supply teacher - you remember the one, Alison, who replaced Mr Desmond when he was off sick for a couple weeks - anyway, Alison had told me a couple of times to pay attention, but I hadn't taken much notice. I mean, the new Louis Vuitton collection was really something and I couldn't keep my eyes off the pictures: I needed a new gown to wear to Charlotte's dance next holidays and some of these things were just perfect. I was gazing at a particularly pretty chiffon, when Alison banged her desk and told me to wait behind after class.
"When the bell rang and everyone else had left, she went over to her cupboard and took out a cane. Then she beckoned me over. I wondered what for. I thought perhaps she wanted to look at my magazine."
See what I mean about being very pretty, but also pretty dim?
"She told me to sit at one of the front desks and to hold the cane while she went to see the Headmaster to get permission for something or other. When she'd closed the door, I examined the cane. I'd never seen one before. Wow! It was really whippy. I remember thinking that I bet it would sting horribly and I pitied any poor girl who was on the receiving end of it. I flexed it and swished it up and down a few times - yes, a cane was definitely something to be avoided.
"I wondered whether I should open up the magazine at one of the pages that I thought might interest Alison. She was a bit dowdy, but you never knew, and now I could hear her footsteps approaching.
"Well, imagine my surprise when she locked the classroom door behind her and rather brusquely took back her cane.
" 'OK, she said. 'the Headmaster has approved six of the best.' I wondered what on earth she was talking about. 'Bend over the desk,' she growled, 'and lift up your skirt'. I did as I was told, but I still didn't realise what she was going to do until I looked around just in time to see the cane whip down. It landed with the most frightful "Thwack!" across my poor bottom. I leaped up clutching my bum, which felt as though someone had laid a red-hot poker across it.
" 'That didn't count, because you got up,' said Alison. I was really starting to dislike her. Anyway, I had to bend over that beastly desk while she whacked away. It hurt so much I rubbed my behind twice more, so I ended up getting nine strokes. The stripes lasted a whole week.
"So let me tell you girls something: don't ever trust anyone who hands you a cane. They may be planning an unpleasant surprise."
Thanks for the insight, Roxy. We'll remember your advice.