LETTER TO THE EDITOR
You may be interested in my experience in the late seventies.Having left the local comprehensive school in 1977,at the age of sixteen.I got a job at a well known record company,in their London west end offices.I was working in the A&R section,admittedly I did little more than make the tea,and open letters for the first two years,but it was a job.Also it was perceived as quite glamorous,and Soho was really buzzing with punk rock at the time,and I felt a real part of the whole rebel scene.
My best friend Julie,was doing her last year of her A levels,at a local public school,having been funded by her grandparents.Julie was always more academic then me,but to my eyes more immature,still being at school,but we were best friends.
In the May of 1979,we were round Jules' place,playing records when she said.
"Joan,I've got a great idea,it's the last Lacrosse away game on Saturday,and we are going on the bus unsupervised.Cleggers the games mistress,is off having a sprog,and the head said as we are all prefects on the team.We can be trusted to look after ourselves."
I think she could tell I was less than impressed by her earth shattering news.
"It's a mufti day!"She said,trying to kindle interest.
"Mufti,non-uniform,so that means you could sneak along onto the bus with us,it will be a hoot!"
Not my idea of fun,but Jules seemed so excited,I couldn't say no.
A hoot,it wasn't.
I felt like a fish out of water,dressed in tight black satin drainpipe trousers,and black winkle picker velvet boots,and wearing a Public Image t-shirt,I couldn't have looked more out of place if I'd tried.
During the match-which by the way I couldn't understand,played with hockey sticks with nets on?-,the non playing girls cheered on the team with shouts of.
"Come on gels",and"Jolly good show".I felt like I'd fallen into a really bad issue of Bunty.
All the girls were around my age,but seemed to behave like twelve year olds.I just wanted the day to end.
The bus journey back was worse,they won,and were even more full of themselves.After a lot of self congratulating,some one started up a song,which was then followed by one after another of Rugby songs,each getting more bawdier than the previous.The coach driver asked them to tone it down,and they all just giggled,and burst into a chorus of "friggin in the rigging".
For the driver that was the last straw,he pulled the bus over,and said that we would all have to walk the remaining four miles back to Jules' school.After getting on the radio to his head office,he relented,and started driving again.We all now sat in smirking silence,myself included,he had to our mind been told off from his boss.How wrong we were.
As the bus pulled into the schoolyard,I could see a figure standing with a cane in hand.
"Jules,who is that guy."I asked my friend.
"Oh good god no!That's Mr.Green the deputy head,"Jules replied,her face paling as she said."now we are all for it.The bus company must have rang him."
As we got of the bus,Mr.Greens voice boomed out.
"Right all of you line up by that wall.You are all an absolute disgrace,and you are all to receive four strokes,to show the driver that this school will not tolerate,rowdy,and vulgar behaviour."
I was biting the inside of my lip,so as not to laugh.If I'd known I was going to see a load of posh girls get the stick,I would have come to all of Jules' matches.
As we lined up I was third from one end,and that was the end he was starting at.
"Bend over and grab the back of your knees."Mr.Green ordered the girl in a thin summer dress.
The first stroke slashed across her backside,and we all winced,and she cried out.
The second stroke likewise.
Before the third stroke,she put her hands back behind her to shield her thinly clad bottom.
"Stand up girl,right hand out."She obeyed,and received a slashing stroke across her palm.
"Left hand out,"Again another ferocious stroke."bend back over,and keep in position properly."
The now sobbing girl held her position for the next two equally harsh strokes.
This was great.
I know I should have felt pity,at least for Jules,but she had more or less ignored me for her "school chums"all day.So I was quite looking forward to seeing how she would take the cane.
I wouldn't have long to wait,as she was next to me,so would be third in line for it.
"Take note girls,any messing me around,will get you extra strokes like Katie here."Mr.Green said."Right,Katie,stop snivelling,and stand back by the wall,hands on head."
The crying girl obeyed.
"Right,you next,"He said pointing with his cane to the girl on my right,wearing a black trouser suit."take your jacket off,and hand it to her"Pointing at me."then you can bend over.Remember mark my words."
She meekly obeyed the stern deputy head.
She took the caning well,but like the previous girl,was in tears by the last stroke.
Now for Jules,I gleefully thought.
To my shock though,he pointed at me,and said.
"Pass the jacket along then bend over."
I almost did as he requested,such was the imposing power of his voice.Then I thought no way,I'm a working adult,not one of his immature schoolgirls.
"No it's OK,"I said."I'm not a pupil here."
"Listen girl,I haven't time to mess around,I saw you get off the bus,and I've already warned you all,now bend over."
"Joan...Please."I heard Jules say,then I realised that,she would be in a whole lot of trouble for me being here.Almost in a trance like state,I handed the jacket to her,moved forward and bent over.
The first stroke broke my trance.I had never been caned before.It was common for the boys to be caned at my old school,but girls had to do something really bad to get it.
I couldn't believe the feeling,the initial contact was bad enough,but then the pain seemed to build up and spread out.Just as I was taking in the sensation,the second stroke came,this time to my shame I cried out.Then the third,and I was sobbing like a little girl,not like the sophisticated working adult I saw myself as.Then to my dread,and relief the final stroke fell on my satin clad behind.Like the two before me,I went unbidden back to the wall,and placed my hands on my head.I did see Jules,and all the other girls get theirs,like I'd hoped for,but I watched through tear blurred eyes.
To this day I don't know,if Mr.Green knew I was not one of his pupils.