The year was 1973, Britain was locked in political turmoil, union problems, high inflation, unrest in Northern Ireland and a government only just clinging to power. Not that any of this really bothered me, you see I was at university studying for my law degree, with the almost half promised offer of employment at the firm where my mother was a junior partner.
Simonside and partners, had been a well established law firm since the early nineteen twenties, the current Mr. Simonside was Philip, the grandson of the founder, and I've known him since I was a young teen and I used to pop in to see mum during the school holidays. It got to the point that I was such a regular visitor, that Philip Simonside would find little jobs for me to do around the place, you know, nothing major, just little bits of filing and the like, making brews and doing the Kit-Kat run mid morning, that sort of thing. So it seemed sort of natural with all the time that I spent hanging about in the office, that I grew an affinity with the law, and it became a case of "like mother like daughter". So to both my mother and also to Philip's joy I decided I would like to take it up as my chosen career, my father was not that keen though.
"So, Angie you plan to go and work for that creep and your mum then eh?" He asked me one weekend just before I left school.
"Yes dad, and Philip isn't a creep!" I answered, rather annoyed at the way dad always seemed to blame Philip and mum's work for their divorce.
"Really, so he's not a creep then? We'll see if you still think that once you get to know him better." Dad said shaking his head.
I felt sorry for dad, since the divorce he seemed to have lost interest in everything, and became very bitter towards Philip in particular. He never said it outright - at least not to me anyway - but I believe he suspected that there was something going on between mum and Philip. The very idea of mum seeing anything in the overweight Philip Simonside, was just so ridiculous to me, at least it was at the time. For all that mum and Philip were around the same age, both in their mid forties, mum always looked so much younger and glamorous.
Philip on the other hand, looked everyday of his forty six years, in fact he looked and sounded like an aged Billy Bunter. However I should have heeded dad's words! I even had early warnings that I failed to notice. Once my A level results came through, Philip said we should have a party to celebrate them, so he arranged a Sunday afternoon barbecue at his house in Ponteland. It was an odd party, none of my friends were there and obviously dad wasn't invited. The guests consisted of mum's work colleagues from the office, and her and Philip's business contacts. For me it was a total bore, I would much rather had had a night out with my mates, but mum insisted and she tends to get her way. At one point in the afternoon Philip's phone rang and it was a work call, I can't remember now what it was about, but what ever it was it was very urgent. He came out into the garden and asked if he could chat with mum in his study for a couple of minutes, out of boredom I tagged along with them. t was the first time I had been in his study, and to be honest it was all a bit of a shock. It was set out like a rather plush office, a large oak desk in the centre of the room with a black leather swivel chair behind it, and two smaller leather chairs in front of it.
It was the glass display cases though that really caught my attention. One case held an antique collection of judicial implements that would not have been out of place in a chamber of horrors. Some things I recognised from my history lessons, thumbscrews, a scolds bridle and a couple of bodkins. The other things I could only speculate on their usage, an odd assortment of various types of pliers and strange metal rings. It was the second display case that I found most odd though. In the second case was an old fashioned school cane, like the one that Jimmy Edwards would always be seen brandishing in the comedy series Whack-O. Next to the cane, was what looked like two cheese boards, one with five holes drilled through it, the other had four Greek letters carved into it. Below them lay two shelves containing a selection of leather straps, some with handles, some without. Whatever they were, they certainly weren't antiques so curiosity got the better of me.
"Mr. Simonside, what are all these, they don't seem like antiques?" I asked, butting into their whispered conversation.
Philip looked over towards me, a rather strange smile upon his face, and said. "Firstly, call me Philip, your are an adult now I think the days of Mr. Simonside are now gone. Secondly you are right they aren't antique, though if all the do-gooders get their way they soon will be. That, Angie, is a collection of currently used scholastic instruments of correction, though how long they will remain current for is questionable. Not that a good warmed bottom ever did anyone any harm, eh Miranda?"
I noticed my mum go bright red in the face at this seemingly innocent question. That was my first warning of what could be to come. After that when I was working in the office during my first summer break from uni - paid work at that - a couple of times I made an odd minor slip up, and Philip would always say.
"Make a habit of this and you'll get yourself a smacked bum!"
These days that would be classed as sexual harassment, then it was just comedy banter, or so I thought. Then everything came to a head, against mum's wishes I went out with a couple of my old schoolmates for a Thursday night around the town. Even with mum's warning words of. "Don't forget you have work in the morning!" I went out and got totally hammered, though I think I tried to say to mum "I'm only a little bit squiffy." as I fell out of the taxi. The next morning was awful, I wandered through the day on automatic pilot concentrating on not being sick and clock watching. That was the problem, I was taking more notice of the time than my work. A contract that needed to be sent to Aberdeen in the last post, also needed to be signed first by Greg Murray the other junior partner in the business. I neglected to get Greg to sign it, such was my rush to get out of the office and along to the Post Office, you see if you took the post you got to finish half an hour early hence my keenness. By the time I'd got home all hell had broken loose, my mum was in a rage, the sort I hadn't seen the like of since she was still with dad. No sooner had I opened the front door than I heard her voice.
"Angela, get in here now!"
I knew I was in trouble, it's funny how parents give you your full name when they are annoyed with you. "Hi mum what's up?" I asked as I entered the living room.
"What's up! I've just had Greg on the phone telling me about your behaviour today at work. According to him you were still drunk and reeking of alcohol when you got into the office this morning, is that true?" Mum had been at court all day so had never seen me since last night when I had stumbled off to bed.
"Well I had a little bit of a hangover I suppose." I lied, my head still throbbing.
"Also he said you weren't interested in doing any work, you just moped about. He kept the best to last though, you sent an unsigned engineering contract off to Aberdeen!"
I felt faint at this bit, I could actually feel the blood drain from my face and my heartbeat increase as I struggled for breath to answer mum. I knew I had cocked up big style, and that Greg would milk it for all it was worth.
Mum and Greg were always at loggerheads with each other as they were both constantly vying for Philip's attention. Greg tended to do more business law, whereas mum did more criminal law. Both tried to make their chosen path seem the more important to the practise in Philip's eyes.
"The little scrote is even hinting that you may have done this on purpose, to somehow block the oil contract going through and make him look incompetent. In short he wants you sacked, and any offer of you coming to work with us when you finished uni withdrawn!"
Now the room seemed to be spinning around me as I tried to take it all in, he couldn't be serious could he, it was a simple error no more no less.
"I'm going to have to phone Philip in the morning and try to see if I can somehow save your career. A career you seemed to have ruined before it has even begun, I hope last nights little binge was worth it."
I flumped down onto the settee in tears, waiting for mums consoling arm around my shoulder. It never came, she merely left the room to prepare dinner.
I sulked all evening, then during dinner I noticed that mum seemed to have something on her mind, a couple of times she seemed like she was going to say something then stopped herself. After all the dinner dishes were cleared and washed we went into the living room to watch a bit of telly before bed.
It was while we were sitting watching telly that mum finally spoke her mind.
"I think I may have a solution to your predicament," she said catching all my attention. "I'm pretty sure that Philip will go along with my plan, I warn you though it won't be pleasant." I noticed that mum's face reddened slightly as she said the last few words.
"Great!" I said, the joy and relief must have been obvious in voice, as mum's face darkened and she shook her head.
"Well we see how great you think it is tomorrow, so till then, not another word on the matter." She replied solemnly.
I remember that night I didn't sleep well at all, as I lay in bed thinking about what had happened, my emotions went from one extreme to the other. I was either full of remorse over what I had done, or I was angry at everyone for over reacting to what I considered to be just a simple mistake. On the Saturday morning we both had breakfast, the tension between mum and myself was still there, hardly a word was spoken between us. Then as mum went into the hall to phone Philip, I went into the living room pretending to read a magazine though my ears were cocked to try and catch what was being said. It was a waste of time as I could only hear bits of what mum was saying, and obviously none of what Philip was saying. I heard a few key phrases though not that I could piece together any real sense from them.
"Getting the train and staying in a hotel"
"I would suggest a strapping"
"a good wake up call"
So all my eavesdropping did was confuse me further. Mum came off the phone and straight into the living room, she looked very pensive for a while then finally spoke. "I have sorted it out with Philip, if you agree to take a strapping from him by way of punishment, it will wipe the slate clean and the matter will be forgotten. If you don't however, he feels that he will have to give in to pressure that he's getting from Greg to dismiss you from your summer job, and also to rescind the job offer for when you leave uni."
I was lost for words, had it really come to this that mum would even make such a suggestion to Philip, I knew it was Greg that was forcing the issue. I was stuck in the crossfire of office politics, but at the end of the day I didn't really have that much choice in the matter. For all that the whole thing may seem outlandish now, the early seventies were really like another world. Six form girls over the age of eighteen were still bounded by rules - that in some schools - their breaking would lead to them receiving corporal punishment. It was not a common practice, but also by the same token it was not unheard of. Only a few years earlier there was a case in the courts, where the headmaster of one school gave two six form girls a bare bottom punishment for necking in the sixth form common room. So as I said earlier, this was a different world to now. Indeed my old school still used corporal punishment, when I was there though the only thing I ever faced was two whacks with the plimsoll across my netball shorts for messing about in the changing rooms.
The strap at our school - or the belt as we called it - was applied to the palm of the hands, though from some of the remarks that I had heard and for that matter received from Philip, I knew it would not be my palms that he would be interested in.
I had no real choice though, so all I said to mum was. "When?"
"After lunch this afternoon, at Philip's house, so you had better get yourself ready." Mum answered matter of factly and then left the room.
That now left me with the practical problem, of what to wear when you knew you were going to be bent over for a belting? I know that may sound a little glib, but I had by then totally resigned myself to my fate. Now Minnie The Minx, or Beryl The Peril, would have just stuffed a school exercise book down their knicks to save their poor bottoms. Sadly though this was not a situation in a children's comic, I toyed with the idea of putting on a few pairs of knickers to layer up, but for some reason I was afraid of being somehow caught out by mum. So I finally opted for wearing a cream blouse, and a thick woolen midi length brown and cream tartan skirt, under that I plumped for dark tights and yes, only the one pair of knickers. I did however pick out the pair that covered the largest amount of bum area. Once dressed I just sat on my bed and waited for mum to shout me downstairs. I remember the waiting oh so well, it was one of those situations when you wanted time drag, paradoxically though I wanted it all done and finished with, as mum said, "the slate wiped clean". Soon enough however I heard mum's voice calling me down.
"Angela, come on it's time to go!" She called, still using my Sunday name.
Mum was waiting at the foot of our stairs as I came down, she looked at my attire, then for some reason gave her head a little shake. The short journey to Philip's was made in complete silence, both of us lost in our thoughts. I remember thinking that we had never had a weekend where so few words had passed between us, that this was so much more than just mum being in a bad temper with me.
When we got to Philip's driveway and pulled in there were two cars parked there.
"Shit!" Mum exclaimed. "What is that little prick doing here?"
It was then that I recognised the other car was Greg's Rover, then I too wondered what the prick was doing here.
It did not take long before our curiosity was answered, mum opened Philip's front door with to my surprise her own key, then I followed her along to his study. In the study were Philip, Greg and his wife Fiona. Butterflies were now hammering in my stomach, and my heart felt like it was about to leave my chest as I saw the three of them and the leather strap already lying on Philip's desk.
"I'm sorry, Miranda, there is a further problem arisen over Angie's little error." Philip said though not looking in the least bit apologetic.
"Little error!" Fiona interrupted. "Tomorrow is our tenth wedding anniversary, and now because of her, I'm going to be on my own when Greg is stuck in some hotel in Aberdeen. All because she was hungover and couldn't do her job properly, and now to add insult to injury you want to let her off with a schoolgirl punishment. As always Miranda and her offspring get away with anything, your special little protege, and now little protege junior walks all over you as well. It's not on!"
Mum glared at Fiona all through her little outburst, but surprisingly held her tongue, then Philip spoke.
"Miranda I'm afraid Fiona and Greg do not agree with our little arrangement. They both believe that six whacks with the strap are not enough for the inconvenience that they are facing through Angie's mistake."
I was in a state of shock, six with the strap! I don't remember what I was actually expecting, but I know it wasn't six. Then mum spoke, direct to Fiona.
"So then, what do you suggest, after all my daughter came over here in good faith willing to take her medicine?"
Fiona smiled, and it was a truly creepy smile little more than a victorious smirk. "Six of the strap from Philip, as agreed without our prior agreement but also six of the cane from me. Anything less and we won't agree to her continuing at the firm."
Mum seemed to be in a fury, she looked at Philip who merely shrugged his shoulders as if to say he had no say in the matter. Mum then turned to me, her silence in it's self a question. Not that I really had that much say in the matter, all that was running through my mind was how much those two feeble taps with the sand shoe had hurt. What was this proposed thrashing going to feel like? I nodded to her, even though my whole body was shaking.
Then Philip spoke again breaking the oppressive silence of the room. "Miranda, would you like to prepare Angie?"
To my horror mum's fingers went to the zipper on the side of my skirt, in an automatic reflex my hands went to stop her, then I heard Philip's voice again.
"I'm sorry my dear, but all punishments in this room are on the bare bottom."
Time seemed to hold still as the full impact of his words hit me - " all punishments in this room" - as if it was regular occurrence. Mum understanding straight away what he meant by - "prepare Angie" - the lack of any surprise upon the faces of Greg and Fiona, dad's words of warning about Philip being a creep. At that moment all became so clear. Before I really knew what was happening my skirt was on the floor and mum had pulled off my court shoes. Next her fingers went to the waistband of my tights, they along with my knickers were soon lowered too, as in my dreamlike state I attempted to cover my pubic hair with my hands, a feeble attempt at regaining some sort of dignity. Then still in a sort of semi trance I stepped clear of the pool of clothing at my feet, wordlessly mum led me to Philips desk and pushing lightly at my upper back bent me across it.
The first stroke brought me back into the room, the initial impact across my bared cheeks shocked me but the burning pain that followed seconds later brought tears to my eyes, and this was only the first one. I gritted my teeth and waited for the next slash of white heat, the way the sunlight spilled into the room it turned the glass display case to the right of Philip's desk into a pseudo mirror. I could see his portly figure, I could see him raise the strap but before I could close my eyes I felt the strap whip across me again, this time lower than the first but just as vicious as it's predecessor, I took it in silence. The next two followed the same pattern, a twenty second or so wait, then a strike a little lower. I took them well, even if I so say myself, no screams of pain, no pleads for pity. Now though, Philip could go no lower as he had covered my still maturing bottom fully, instead of tracing back over old ground however. He now turned his attention to my upper thighs, my resolve broke with the final two burning lashes across the backs of my legs. Each stroke brought forth a call of pain, and I was now weeping openly.
"Alright, Angie you may stand now." Philip said, his voice filled with false concern.
I stood up, and hopped about from foot to foot, my hands vigorously trying to rub out the pain, all concern about hiding my velvet black bush now long gone. All I cared about now was the burning in my bottom, and the fact that I was only half way through, the sight of Fiona standing there, cane already in her hand, acted as a solemn reminder. After a couple of minutes I regained some sort of composure, and managed to stop my erratic jig and Fiona spoke.
"When I was a young girl and correction was needed at school it was always touchy toes! So if you please, Angie."
I turned and bent over, struggling to touch my toes as this movement seemed to stoke up further pain from the belting. I had harboured the hope that Fiona would feel sorry for me and let me off, once I was in position. This vain hope left me as I felt the cane crash across my already raw behind, I leapt up in both pain and shock.
"Back in position girl, we haven't got all day!" Fiona scolded me.
Again as the second stroke lashed into me, I leapt up rubbing at my bottom.
"This is no good at all, the next four you will have to receive in a position that offers more stability," Fiona said her voice sounding almost gleeful. "stand up."
I obeyed, dreading whatever it was that she now had planned for me.
"Lie back upon Philip's desk, and pull your knees back towards your chin, and grip under the back of your knees. Then we can finally get this pantomime finished."
I looked about from face to face hoping for someone to intercede on my behalf, no one did, not even mum. I knew only too well the view that I would be giving everyone in that position, my sexual charms would be on total display as would my bottom hole. A more debasing vista I could not imagine. To come this far, then to baulk so close to it's conclusion would just have been crass stupidity. So I complied. The coolness of the wood upon my bottom offered a little respite as I laid back upon the desk, I hesitated about raising my legs.
"Hurry up girl, don't be shy your mother wasn't." Fiona said, that local lower class phrase usually used by over amorous boys to their reluctant girlfriends, seemed so odd coming from the lips of a mature woman. Now with my eyes misting up in a fog of tears, I pulled back my legs and waited, knowing that Greg and Philip would be seeing more of me than any boyfriend ever had. The wait wasn't long, Fiona seemed to want to cut her husbands viewing time down to a minimum, the four strokes were applied very quickly, though she lost none of her power with the added rapidity. Then through the noise of my own sobs I heard Philip's voice.
"Well done, Angie, it's all over now you can get down and get dressed, all is now forgotten and we start afresh on Monday."
As mum helped me get back into my clothes I noticed Philip shaking hands with Greg and Fiona, all three of them were all smiles now as he showed them out.
Of course all was not forgotten, corporal punishment became the regular resolution for my further mistakes, both during my time in the following summer jobs, and also after I left uni and started work there full time. Such punishments were not however reserved for me alone, most members of staff - mum and Greg included - seemed to fall under Philip's strict regime, all of course totally consensual.
Dad was half right, Philip was a bit of a creep, but he was also good company and very likable, even when he had you over his knee his hand slapping at your bare behind, you couldn't help but like him!