by Eric Carwardine
Karen staggered off her bed, intent on silencing the alarm on the clock-radio. Glad to be awakened in time, she still hated the noise it made. She felt completely drained, and the taxi would be here in thirty minutes. By the time she had done everything else, she wouldn't even be able to make a cup of tea and sit and enjoy it. Breakfast on the train was looking more and more attractive.
Her bedroom door was closed, and locked - a fact she discovered as she went to open it. Strange, she thought, I never lock my bedroom door, even when the children were small. Giving silent thanks that she had dressed and done her hair the night before, Karen surveyed herself in the dressing-table mirror, trying to manage a smile. Her hair was still pretty-much intact, and although her clothes were a bit crumpled, they would pass as not unlike those of any other passenger who had spent most of the day on a train. A quick smooth-down with her hands would do. Straighten her shirt, and vigorously pat the creases out of the seat of her skirt. And that was when she remembered why her bedroom door was locked, as she felt the cheeks of her bottom move under the cloth! Her mouth closed in a tight line, and the breath snorted in her nostrils, as recollection flooded her brain ...
Karen had never been caned as a schoolgirl, but many of her friends had given her vivid descriptions. In those days, the caning of schoolgirls of all ages was very commonplace, although most of it occurred in the private schools. So common, in fact, that very detailed rules had been devised to cover its use. Only the cane was ever used, on both boys and girls. And always on their bare bottom. Caning was described as 'precision punishment'. Unlike the much-less-precise strap, the cane in skilled hands could deliver agonising chastisement to a closely-defined area of the bottom. Every employee of a school was expected to be highly proficient in the use of the cane, as any of them could be selected at random to administer punishment. The unwritten standard required that every employee, before being allowed to use the cane officially, must be able to deliver six consecutive strokes full-force to a two-inch-wide strip of skin measured upwards from the 'sulcus' - the crease-line between buttock and thigh. Karen often wondered how they practised to achieve such a high standard.
The written rules for using the cane were many and detailed, and at first glance seemed to be identical for both boys and girls. But Rule Number Five was the exception. 'Positioning the Recipient' made a very clear distinction in how boys and girls were to be caned. Both boys and girls had to bare their bottom for the caning, But the boy was permitted to take his punishment bending-over. Although this greatly increased the pain of the caning, it meant that the witnesses could not see his face. He could suffer in the relative privacy of the head-down position. But there was no such shelter from humiliation for a girl, although the procedure varied according to age. A girl between the ages of fifteen and eighteen could expect savage treatment. With her bottom bared, she would be ordered to stand up straight, with her hands on her head, and her feet slightly apart to maintain her balance. All of the witnesses would gather in front of her, and she would be instructed to look one of them - usually the Headmaster - directly in the eye. The person selected to do the caning would take three short steps as a run-up and slash the cane across the lower part of her bottom cheeks. If she closed her eyes, or broke the eye-contact, the stroke would be repeated. The difference in positioning was defended with the argument that a caning should be purely a punishment, devoid of any sexual overtones. To require a girl to bend-over for a caning would mean displaying her private parts to the witnesses. Nobody seemed to mind that the poor girl should suffer acute embarrassment in order to preserve her sexual modesty.
Because of the space required, most canings were conducted in the school gymnasium. And many school gymnasiums were stand-alone buildings, well separated from the main structure of the school. A punishment party on its way to the gymnasium was a very public spectacle. Although the caning of girls was fairly common, the sighting of a single schoolgirl, surrounded by several grim-faced adults and heading toward the gymnasium, would immediately attract and excite a small group of other students. But they were always very careful to disguise their interest.
Very few girls could maintain their composure beyond the second stroke. With tears streaming down her face, and shifting her weight from one foot to the other to ease the agony in her bottom, her humiliation was total - and very public. Girls at the school would often speculate excitedly about what the Headmaster did after watching such a caning.
And when it was all over, and the girl emerged from the punishment room, there would always be two or three of her friends to meet her. They would take her to a secluded part of the school where they would hold her and hug her as she howled her eyes out. When she grew calmer, and weather permitting, they would all go for a long walk in the school grounds. Certain pathways were always used for this purpose. It came to be accepted, by staff and students alike, that when you came across this small cohort you would not smile, nor stop them and ask questions. But Karen always marvelled at how any girl could walk so calmly after such a terrible caning.
If the weather was foul, the little group would find a common-room somewhere in the school building, where the caned girl could kneel on a chair or lay on her tummy on the couch. It was considered bad manners for any other occupants of the room not to leave immediately. There was no such loving support for a caned boy. When he emerged from the punishment room he was on his own. He would be expected to display his marks proudly in the shower-room, while casually dismissing the severity of his punishment. Karen often wondered if this difference in the way boys and girls treated each other could explain why the girls always voted overwhelmingly in favour of retaining caning as a form of punishment.
'You're not going to make it, are you, old girl?' Karen despaired, as she stared at herself in the dressing-table mirror, trying to imagine if she could look a man full in the eye while her bottom was being caned. 'You'll have your fingers between your legs before the taxi gets here, won't you' she sneered at her reflection 'Go on - do it! That's why you left your panties off, isn't it? So you could get your hand up there, first chance you got! You're a bad, bad girl Karen, and you deserve a good caning on your bare bottom - just like you should have got at school. Why didn't you ever get the cane at school, Karen? Too scared, were you? Did you let someone else take the blame instead? That's it, isn't it? You told lies about your friend, didn't you? Let her get the cane, when it should have been you. Proud of yourself, young lady? Too scared to get the cane? You disgust me!'
Karen could stand it no longer. 'Please, please, leave me alone!' she sobbed, as she tore open the bedroom door 'Yes, yes, it was me! I told lies! It should have been me getting the cane! Oh please, please forgive me! I won't do it again!'
The headlights of the taxi flared on the loungeroom curtains. 'Oh, my God! It's here already!' she whimpered 'Oh God, what do I need!' she almost screamed. A soft 'toot' of the taxi's horn marshalled her thoughts 'Handbag, coat, case' Thank goodness she kept her travelling case always packed and ready. Dashing through the house, she almost collided with the chair of the family computer, where it had come to a violent halt against the television set. Too bad if I've smashed the TV, she thought, churlishly.
'Thankyou!' Karen gasped, as she sank into the taxi seat 'Flinders Street station, please' as the taxi reversed down the drive.
Ten minutes later, as she stared out of the window of the speeding vehicle 'Oh, my God! Have I locked Moo in the house?'
|( Click to continue with Part 7 ... )|