Debbie’s penchant for live music had got her into trouble on more than one occasion. Skipping school on Saturday to attend a rock concert, not once but twice, had raised the blood pressure of the headmistress to the point where she had all but given up with the rock-mad sixth former.
As a daygirl, Debbie enjoyed privileges and freedoms not accorded to the boarders who, although allowed into the town, were not permitted to travel further afield without permission, and then normally only in organised school parties. And school parties were not to be found at rock concerts.
This didn’t worry Debbie, however, for since her father had died she had been running wild, her mother having virtually gone to pieces. Still only sixteen, Debbie regularly travelled up to London with a group of friends to see her latest idols. Until that Saturday…
The concert had been terrific, and the gaggle of girls pushed and shoved their way into a pub in Earl’s Court across from the hall. It was just Debbie’s luck that she should push and shove a man whom she suddenly realised was a part-time member of staff at her school.
‘Don’t I recognise you?’ he asked.
‘Never laid eyes on you before,’ she yelled above the din, the panic in her voice not betrayed by the surrounding hubbub.
The wet-look gel in her curly hair and the extravagant make-up ensured that should she bump into anyone in London — a million to one shot — then they wouldn’t recognise her anyway. Trust this ponce to blow the whistle.
‘You’re Saunders, aren’t you? Sixth form at Levington High School?’
‘Never heard of it,’ she countered.
‘Yes you are, I’ve taken you for Art. I remember now. You did that terrific drawing of Pink Floyd which no one understood.’
‘I understood it,’ Debbie blurted, realising her mistake immediately.
‘I knew it was you. Up for the concert, are you?’
‘You won’t tell anyone, will you sir?’ Debbie’s voice pleaded.
‘Report me or anything. To the school…’
‘Ah, well, I don’t know,’ he mumbled.
‘I said I don’t know about that,’ he bellowed above the din in the pub. He looked the attractive teenager up and down, taking in the tight white skirt and bare legs, the maturing breasts under the thin cotton of her T-shirt. Pert bottom, too, if a little heavy in the thighs. He had noticed her when she came in with her friends, who were now calling her from the bar.
‘What would happen if I did report you?’ he asked, bending close to her ear and catching a whiff of the expensive perfume she wore.
‘I’d probably get swished this time, knowing old Mackie,’ she replied with a grimace, mouthing into his ear, ‘but you won’t, will you? Report me, I mean?’
‘Who’s Old Mackie?’
‘You know, Mrs Macalister. The headmistress. She said she’d probably use the stick on me next time.’
‘What the cane, you mean?’ he asked disbelievingly.
‘Yeah, that’s it. Bloody old-fashioned cow. She swished my friend over there, Lucy, before she left last year. Made horrible marks on her bum it did. I saw them.’
‘Really?’ He looked embarrassed, but a germ of an idea was whirling round inside his head.
‘Well, I think you probably deserve it if you’ve been warned before.’ Suddenly, his mouth took over before his brain had sorted out exactly what he wanted to say.
Putting his lips so close to her ear he could feel her hair tickling his face, he said; ‘Of course, if you’re going to be swished anyway, you could opt for an unofficial swishing which probably wouldn’t be as bad as Mrs Macalister.’
‘Unofficial?’ she hissed, taking the half-pint of lager proffered by a friend. ‘What, get the stick unofficially? Who from?’
There was a pause. He smiled awkwardly.
‘Oh, I see,’ she said.
‘You’ve got to be kidding, sir. What if someone found out?’
He panicked, and back-pedalled: ‘Just an idea, Saunders. Forget it,’ He must be crazy, suggesting to a pupil that he should cane her in return for keeping silent about her Saturday exploit.
‘Look, can we talk about this later, sir? It’s just that the others will notice in a minute and they’ll start asking questions.
‘No, no. Forget I said anything, Saunders. I’ll have a word with Mrs Macalister on Monday morning.’
‘Oh, but sir…’ Debbie bleated.
‘See you at school next week.’
On the way back to Reading on the train, Debbie thought about her conversation with the teacher. The problem was, of course, that Old Mackie had actually threatened her with expulsion if she was caught out again, so the cane might be a better if painful option. But what if someone found out? How hard would it be? And how long would the marks last? What about PE and games? ‘I’ll have to get a sick note,’ she thought.
By the time she walked into her bedroom late that night, Debbie’s mind was made up. She’d pluck up courage and call him at home tomorrow, Sunday. But how would she get the number? Riffling through her school books, she found the school calendar. Inside, the list of staff, she remembered, had home numbers printed against the names for emergency purposes.
There it was. Mr DRG Leslie [Art] and his ‘phone number. She’d call him in the morning. Simplest way out. Not painless, but simple…
Getting up late, Debbie waited for her mother to go round to her sister’s house for a pre-lunch drink. She seized the opportunity, grasped her courage in both hands and dialled the number. He answered.
‘It’s Debbie Saunders here, er, from school, you remember, we er, met after the concert?’
‘Oh yes, Saunders.’
‘Well, Mr Leslie, I’ve been thinking about what you said.’
‘Yes, I’ll be speaking to the head tomorrow morning.’
‘No, that’s not what I mean.’
‘I don’t understand,’ he murmured, closing the door to the study so that his mother could not hear.
‘You said something about an unofficial punishment, sir, didn’t you?’
‘You know, a swishing.’
‘Well. I imagine Mrs Macalister will be dealing with that on Monday, Saunders. It’ll be her decision.’
Debbie’s palms were damp. She’d come this far. It would be silly to back out now.
‘Look, the thing is, Mr Leslie, I know it’s not right, but if we both agree then that’s OK isn’t it? And I’m agreeing to it. To the stick I mean,’ she babbled on nervously, encouraged by the silence from the ‘phone.
‘You do have a stick, Mr Leslie?’
‘Well no, I don’t actually. But I can probably get hold of a proper cane somewhere.’
‘So you’ll agree to, then?’
‘If that’s what you want, Saunders, then this once I agree.’ His heart missed a beat as he realised that he was going to be able to fulfil his idea of yesterday, with a well-padded teenage bottom as the target.
‘Where will you do it, sir?’ she asked.
He remembered that his mother would be out all day on Monday.
‘I think you’d better come to my house on Monday after school. Do you know where that is?’
He gave her directions, they agreed a time, and he hung up. Debbie’s were not the only damp palms that Sunday morning.
When he called his friend in the props department of a film studio the next morning, Leslie was relieved to discover that it was still relatively easy to purchase a proper school cane. At lunchtime, he went off to make his purchase.
After school, Debbie rushed home to have a quick shower, then dressed slowly in clean uniform clothes. Plain white cotton knickers and bra, long white woollen socks and plain black regulation pumps, blue check shirt and school tie, knee-length blue-grey uniform skirt with its familiar box-pleat at the front, and a long sleeved green school pullover.
Brushing her curly mane swiftly, she topped it with her summer boater, swung her satchel containing a solitary plimsoll over her shoulder, and walked down the road to the bus stop. The plimsoll was a backup. Just in case he hadn’t been able to get a cane and had nothing suitable with which to punish her. She had tried giving herself a couple of light whacks on the bottom with the slipper and was surprised at how it stung, even through her knickers.
It was a long walk from the bus stop where she got off to the drive leading up to the Leslie house. She was impressed by the size of the place as much as by the length of the curving drive, and stood for a moment at the front door looking round before ringing the bell.
The door swung back, and Mr Leslie ushered her in. He was, strangely, wearing his academic gown which, even more strangely, did not look out of place in the gothic splendour of the hall. ‘Come in, Saunders. You can leave your satchel and boater on the chair there,’ he pointed.
‘Thanks,’ she mumbled.
‘Right, slip your pullover off, too, and wait at the top of the first flight of stairs, by the window. I have a couple of things to attend to.’
Debbie took off the pullover, shook her hair, and walked up the first five stairs to wait. At first, she stood leaning against the post supporting the bannisters. After some time, she decided to sit on the stairs. It seemed ages until Mr Leslie returned, when she stood up smartly and looked to see if he had a cane. Her heart sunk as she saw the curved handle sticking out from his right hand, where he held it behind his back.
Without saying a word, he came up the stairs towards her and hooked the cane carefully over the bannister.
‘Now then, Saunders,’ he grunted, and she noticed the glisten of sweat on his top lip, ‘are you ready for your medicine?’
‘Well, I’m not looking forward to it, sir, but I suppose I’m ready.’
‘No you’re not, my girl.’ Her face took on a puzzled look.
‘Kneel on that stair, please.’ He indicated the first stair on the bend. Debbie did as she was told, leaning forward with her hands spread on the next step and looking up the long flight above her. Was she going to be whacked halfway up the stairs? She felt him grip the hem of her skirt and lift it up, up, above her waist, to reveal the clean white cotton of her knickers, stretched tight across her cheeks. This was it then.
Debbie could not have been more wrong, as his fingers hooked in the waistband of her knickers and, with one firm downward tug exposed the plump softness of her bottom to his gaze. Reaching for the cane, and ignoring the spluttered ‘But, sir…’ Leslie measured his swing and brought the slender implement down in a slicing arc to connect with Debbie’s well-padded target.
There was a satisfying if muffled impact, and a double red line quickly made itself evident the full width of both cheeks. It was joined by four more before Debbie, who had squealed with protest at each stroke, kneeled upright and caused him to lay the cane across the backs of her thighs.
Grabbing her right arm, which threatened to obstruct the throbbing rump before he had finished with it, he pinioned it behind her back while he administered a further three full-force strokes to complete her punishment.
‘Stand up and turn round,’ he ordered. Debbie, her face tear-stained and her right hand massaging her glowing tramlined buttocks, obeyed.
‘Lift up your skirt, girl.’ She pulled it up above her waist and tried to listen to what he was saying. But the pain of her welted bottom prevented concentration on anything else, including the embarrassment of standing naked from the waist down facing the man who had just caned her.
The lecture ended, Leslie turned on his heel and walked down the stairs and into the living room. Debbie, meanwhile, slumped in a dejected heap on the stairs, and wondered whether she had made the right choice after all.
In the living room, Leslie’s film studio friend grinned delightedly: ‘Spectacular, old love. What a bum, and what a whacking, eh? When’s the next show?’