What is there to say about this illustration? With two such angels as these stripped down to their stockings and suspenders, what bum-smacking opportunist wouldn’t be putting a strap across their delectable backsides? And the atmosphere is absolutely electric. The tearful, wide-open eyes of the girl on the bed (and isn’t her bottom propped up at just the right angle by the bolster?), perfectly illustrate the unseeing, what’s-happening-to-my-poor-bottom expression of a girl who’s wishing she hadn’t been such a silly, naughty little thing after all. And the other girl — you can be quite sure she’ll make just as appealing a picture when it’s her turn across the bolster, can’t you?
‘It’s her age… all girls act like that when they start to grow up. Don’t worry — she’ll get over it.’
My wife tried hard to convince me that Judy’s sullenness and disobedience, her irritability and cheek were all perfectly normal. I simply needed to be patient, and in time she would ‘come round.’ It was a difficult age for our daughter, but when she had spread her wings and learned to fly — or, at least, had succeeded in showing a measure of independence… then we would see a refreshing change in her behaviour.
Well, I did my best to believe my wife, though I couldn’t help noticing that over a period of several months even she sounded less and less convinced of the strength of her own arguments. I yearned for the Judy I had always known — a carefree, affectionate scamp who rushed to greet me when I came home from work, and who snuggled down next to me so contentedly in the evening on the sofa.
The youngster who sometimes got a bit too out of hand, and was returned to earth — and favour — with a smacked bottom… and a bigger cuddle than ever because I or her mum felt so rotten to have resorted to force, and Judy felt so relieved to be forgiven. Now our daughter was growing up fast, and hadn’t felt the sting of a parental palm for a year or more. Now, when she was reprimanded, she yelled back, or flounced out of the room.
‘It’s no use fretting about it,’ my wife would tell me, ‘you can’t put the clock back.’
Then came the day I had a phone call from Judy’s headmistress. ‘I’m afraid your daughter’s work is slipping badly,’ she said. ‘Judith is a bright and responsive girl, but I am sorry to say that she is mixing with the trouble-makers of her class. She has been absent on three afternoons — and I have good reason to believe that the notes she brought to school, purporting to be from you, in fact were written either by herself or classmates; you see, on the most recent occasion, when, according to the note, she had been in bed with a migraine, she was seen in town with two other girls from the school…’
Judy’s headmistress added further details of my daughter’s misdemeanours, such as cheekiness in class, and an unconfirmed report that she had been smoking in the lavatories, but I had already heard enough.
‘…I can, of course, apply the normal school discipline, and give Judith lines and detention,’ I heard her say, ‘but you may feel that this matter is sufficiently serious for you to deal with… as her father.’
‘You can rest assured,’ I replied, ‘that I will get to the bottom of the matter,’ — the pun was not intentional, as it happened — ‘and when I have done so, I will deal with my daughter in an appropriate way.’
Miss Marsden, Judy’s Head, sounded well satisfied. ‘I will leave the matter in your hands,’ she said. She had telephoned me at my office, and I finished my most pressing work as quickly as I could in order to get home early.
I arrived soon after Judy had finished her tea — just as she was about to go up to her room to change out of her school clothes, a dark brown pleated skirt, fawn coloured cardigan, neat white blouse and yellow tie. ‘I don’t think you need to change this evening, young lady — you are unlikely to go out,’ I told her.
‘Oh, but I am!’ she said.
‘Well, let’s go up to your room, shall we,’ I replied. ‘There’s something I want to talk over with you.’
Judy looked startled and was about to argue, but she saw that I meant what I had said. Clearly displeased, she trudged ahead of me up the stairs, her long ringlets of dark hair whispering about shoulders uncharacteristically drooped and skirt jerking high to afford me generous views of long lissom legs, gangling as a colt’s; pale gold and smooth as vinyl. I closed the door of her bedroom behind us, and motioned her to sit beside me on the bed.
‘Tell me,’ I began, ‘where you were on Tuesday afternoon…’
‘Why — at school, of course.’
‘…and the previous Wednesday afternoon, and the Thursday afternoon before that…’
Judy saw she was not going to brazen it out. Her face went bright pink, and she nibbled her lip. ‘Oh cripes,’ she at last managed to stammer, ‘you’ve found out.’
‘I have indeed. And also about some of your other escapades. You have slipped into irresponsible company, Judy, and are letting yourself down.’
‘Dad! You’re so old-fashioned! School is boring — and so is this lecture.’
‘I’ve really said all I need…’
‘Oh, thank goodness!’ Judy exclaimed, bouncing to her feet, ‘Now perhaps I can get changed…’
‘I’m sorry, young lady, you have misunderstood me. I have said enough; now I am going to do something about your misbehaviour. The change I intend to see is not in the things you wear to go out, but in the things you care about. To show you just how strongly I feel about it, I am going to give you a very sore bottom.’
‘Y-you wouldn’t dare!’ Judy spluttered. ‘I won’t let you — I’m too old.’
I placed her two pillows on the bed, after folding back the mauve counterpane, and restrained her as she tried to make for the door.
‘Kindly position yourself over there, and turn back your skirt.’
Fighting back the threatening tears, Judy took a big gulp, pulled a face that was a blend of consternation and resentment, and bent gingerly over the pillows that I had placed towards the near side of the bed. I manoeuvred her further across the bed, so that her feet were clear of the carpet, head well down, with tresses cascading over her red face, and the ‘centre of operations’ prominently exhibited.
‘Your skirt, please,’ I reminded her.
‘I don’t have to do what you say,’ Judy retorted.
‘Then I will do it for you.’
‘Oh, all right…’ Very slowly, Judy tugged her skirt up, partially exposing beneath the chocolate ruches and ridges a pair of snugly-fitting fleecy cotton pants — the regulation ‘tan’ of St Cecilia’s High School for Girls. It occurred to me how apt was the choice of colour… in the situation in which my daughter found herself.
‘Thank you. Now take your knickers down.’
‘Oh — pig!’
Judy’s uncomplimentary outburst was, I suspect, a girlish mixture of surprise and an expression of rebellion that, even though spontaneous, was toned down subconsciously from the more defiant ‘Oh you pig!’
My own reaction was totally unpremeditated; I brought my hand down once-twice-three times across the plunging, palpitating tan-covered seat and bare thighs that were offering violent support to my daughter’s vocal protestations. The thwack, thwack, thwack as palm made smarting contact with exposed young flesh and school-knickered bottom did me a power of good, quite apart from the effects it had on Judy.
Her immediate reaction was to tense her wounded buttocks and give a pained, startled cry of ‘Ouch! That hurt!’ My daughter’s noisy outburst was followed by a sudden spasm and a relaxing of her gluteal muscles as she surrendered to her fate in a prodigious torrent of tears. I think they were attributable more to wounded pride than the wallops, which after all were but a foretaste of the main course.
For a moment or two (dare I admit it?) I allowed myself the satisfaction of savouring the situation. Here was the little girl of yesteryear, with none of the pre-teen impudence and remoteness that recently had been her normal manner. Not that her present posture could be described as normal either. But it certainly was different — and worth treasuring. Judy lay sprawled tummy down, bottom up and legs stuck out like the shafts of a pony cart; there was a plastic quality to her trim posterior, which combined with the folds and fissures, the ruches and ravines radiating from the central cleft in the material of her regulation school pants to make a fascinating picture. It was a conspiracy of smoothness and shadow; smooth, rounded uplands and shadowy little vales, changing shape as the elastic at waist and thighs expanded and contracted with each convulsive sob.
It reminded me of the definition of elastic: ‘Springy, rebounding; flexible, adaptable; admitting of extension; buoyant.’ Alas, Judy was not very buoyant just now, even if her knickers were. No, it was her misbehaviour that was rebounding! Another word came to mind: ineluctable. ‘Not to be escaped, not to be overcome by struggling.’
The full penalty for her misdemeanours was not going to be avoided, either by girlish pleas, or heart-rending tears, her contrition, or even a momentary weakening of my resolve. For just a second or two I was tempted to let her off with those three instinctive but salutary smacks. It would have been easy — but I at once thought better of it. ‘If a thing’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well’… ‘Screw your courage to the sticking post’… ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’… and so on. A tumult of such thoughts tumbled through my mind; in essence they all said: ‘You started this — now see it through!’
How long was it since I’d delivered those quick angry smacks? Mere seconds, but it seemed an age. Already Judy’s yelps of anguish (and surprise) had subsided to watery whimpers. ‘I’m sorry, Daddy, honest I am,’ she sniffed.
Crumpled skirt, school socks dragging at her calves; a wisp or two of vest and blouse; small pink hillocks of flesh pushing beyond the extremities of her over-stretched school knicks; hair awry; pretty face tear-streaked and appealing. Enough to test the firmest resolve. Yes, it was a picture that almost seduced me —but not quite. Kenneth Tynan described the female fundament as ‘non-functional and aesthetic… as near as the human form can come to abstract art.’ He observed that in women the fat forms a thick pad, blended in one uniform contour of tumescent cheeks. Judy’s demure derriere could scarcely be expected to qualify for such lyricism; it was a work of art still in the making, modest in scale, if boundless in promise. It was not yet, as Simone de Beauvoir has described the buttocks, a place where the flesh seems an aimless feast Not that I would consider that area ‘non-functional’. It serves us all as a seat; and as de Beauvoir has herself noted, it is the part of the body with fewest nerves — and therefore the part of a girl most suited to receive parental chastisement.
Looking at Judy’s dishevelled garments reminded me of a few lines of verse by Robert Herrick:
Then, then methinks how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.
And from another of his poems — ‘Delight in Disorder’ — the nice observation that:
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness.
Herrick was a man after my own heart. A wild civility, he said, do more bewitch me than when art Is too precise in every part. I know what he meant.
The application of my hand to my daughter’s recumbent nether regions had damped down the fires of her rebelliousness — and kindled in me an eager desire to do the job properly.
Judy’s pleading gaze over her shoulder met mine and she read my thoughts as clearly as if they’d been chalked on a blackboard. She made a face, but it was not at all insolent.
‘Oh golly,’ she said glumly. ‘I’m still in for it, aren’t I?’
‘You most certainly are.’
Judy’s face lost a little of its gloom. Now I could read her thoughts blackboard clear: ‘Not so bad, after all.’
‘We’ll begin… when you have slipped your pants down.’
‘Er — yes, Daddy.’
She fumbled at the puckered waistband, nervously, as if expecting the material to singe her fingers, then slowly pulled down the modest garment — the concealing curtain — until it dropped around her ankles. Truly, this was an acknowledgement of surrender — a breaching of the ramparts, and a crossing of the Rubicon.
‘Do you think I am being too strict?’
Judy hesitated, then blurted out a surprising confession.
‘No, Daddy. I deserve it. If I tell you something, do you promise not to change your mind — about it being the slipper?’
‘Well, Linda and Janet were found out before me.’ (They are twins and in her class.) ‘Their dad was much angrier than you are. He actually strapped them! They couldn’t sit down for two days. Golly, the marks they had on their bottoms — they showed us when we were changing for gym.’
‘I’m glad there are still a few sensible fathers in this permissive world,’ I told Judy. ‘The slipper will not be quite as severe as a strap — but I’ll be surprised if you think I have let you off lightly.’
Above the tensed columns of her thighs, Judy’s already rosy bottom prepared to receive a rather more thorough warming than it had received from the three swift smacks. I took off my slipper, tucked up her skirt and vest and blouse to expose the full expanse of her burgeoning buttocks and then proceeded to soundly wallop my errant daughter.
Judy later acknowledged the thoroughness with which I applied myself to the task, and told friends with some glee that I had given her the biggest slippering of her life; as a status symbol it was almost equal to the strapping received by the twins. At the time, though, her capacity to appreciate a job well done was greatly diminished by the painful throbbing of her belaboured bottom. She started by bracing herself to receive her punishment bravely, and held back the tears as my corrective sole smacked noisily across cheeks as plump as pigeons and juicy as peaches. It was a joyous sight — and sound — as my slipper thwacked methodically on fast-colouring flesh, and her legs started to pummel like pistons, and the tears came in a flood. A German gentleman called Clausewitz wrote a book on military strategy and called it The Application of Force in the Right Concentration at the Right Time in the Right Place. This was such an exercise.
My daughter was glowing outside and I was glowing within. Judy had shown all the usual teenage traits of rebelliousness, but had retained her instinctive sense of justice. My stern action had rekindled the intimacy that we had always known; this was, after all, a very private matter — a father punishing a much loved but errant daughter. An essential ingredient in its effectiveness was that Judy — no matter how grudgingly — accepted its fairness. Nature is profligate in its wastefulness:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Human relationships wither within the bud. Family units disintegrate. How strange that my blemishing a girl’s bottom, turning those honey mounds to crimson, should also be such a positive thing: reconciling father and daughter, renewing and strengthening our love and concern for each other. Harassed Parent Strikes Back! The worm had turned!
Now it was all over. Judy sobbed into the pillows, purging her pent-up feelings of rebelliousness, the sense of teenage outrage supplanted by wounded pride and the throbbing of her slippered bottom.
‘Golly,’ she gasped, at last, ‘Wait till I tell Linda and Janet about this.’
It was the moment I regained my self-respect — and the place I treasured so much in Judy’s affections.
Considering this drawing for inclusion in the Gallery it seemed to become more erotic every time I looked at it, yet more of an enigma too. The eroticism is more easily explained than the enigma, so I shall hope that one of our readers will be able to enlighten me as to the circumstances in which a big grown-up girl might find herself obliged to bare her undoubtedly caneable bum behind what looks to be a garden wall. Or perhaps it isn’t a garden wall.
The girl certainly isn’t in the lower school. She is as tall as the man who is admonishing her, and the substantial roundness of her hips suggests that she isn’t far short of her eighteenth or even nineteenth birthday. Her tearfulness leaves us in no doubt that she knows just what it is that she’s about to get, and the way in which she presses her knees together and seems to be poised up on her toes ready to snatch her bottom away the very instant the cane looks like making a move towards it is also a very convincing exposition of the near-panic she is clearly struggling against. You can almost see the goose-pimpled shiveriness of those young buttocks, can’t you? There’s little doubt that this young lady has had previous encounters with canes, and isn’t at all keen to renew the acquaintance.
The artist’s cleverness in dressing her in outdoor clothes, including even a hat, and then having the poor girl hoist them up to above waist height certainly adds to the impression of complete bareness and vulnerability, and that cane really does seem to be quivering on the brink of swishing the first stinging stroke across those helpless cheeks, doesn’t it?
There are a few things I’d like to know however.
Where did that cane come from? He certainly didn’t find it under a gooseberry bush. It smacks of premeditation. And what are they doing out in the garden? Or is it perhaps the wall round a school’s grounds? Or round an orchard? Does the girl know this man? And if she doesn’t, why is she standing around with her bum just asking for a nice juicy swish from that cane? And where are her knickers? Around her ankles? In her pocket? In his pocket? Or wasn’t she wearing any in the first place? And if so, why not? Who is this man anyway? A school teacher? Father? And why doesn’t he take her indoors?