Dear Mr Hicks,
I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms about your treatment of me in your story entitled The Whacking List. I don't know why you have falsified the facts of my life to such an extent, though I suspect that it was for the _s_e_x_ual titillation of yourself and the other sad people who visit MMSA Stories so-called 'archive' of stories. Needless to say, I find this offensive, hurtful and degrading and, should there be any repetition, you will be hearing from my solicitors.
The truth of the events you purport to describe was as follows.
Of course I was caned at school. Every boy of my acquaintance was caned. The school I went to was certainly a 'whacking' school. Most masters kept canes in their classrooms and used them freely. My remembrance is that very few weeks passed without one or other members of my class being called out to the front for a few strokes of the cane across his backside. I'm fairly sure also that there wasn't a single boy in my class who was not caned at least once a term. In fact, I'm very sure of that because it wasn't at all uncommon for the whole class to be lined up and caned. Caning was always on the backside, but never with trousers down.
I received a caning about once or twice a month, usually for minor classroom things, like talking when he'd told us not to, or not finishing homework on time. On those occasions it was normally somewhere between two and four strokes. Sometimes, obviously, I'd have a bad patch and get the cane more often. I think the worst was in the summer term of the second form when I was caned twenty-three times – more than twice a week.
In my worst year, when I was thirteen to fourteen, the headmaster caned me six times. For two of those beatings, my friends and I were wearing pyjamas, so the cane hurt a lot more than across the seat of the trousers, but, as far as I know, he never caned any boy on the bare bottom. For the rest of my school career he caned me once or twice a year. He never gave less than four strokes and the greatest number I ever received was eight. This talk of boys getting a dozen strokes, or even more, is simply fantasy. I never met anyone who got more than eight, or who was ever caned with nothing on. I don't believe that such things ever happened.
Prefects were not allowed to cane us. Instead there was a system of punishments graded from half an hour's work – known as an 'X' – up to ICP (Immediate Corporal Punishment). Corporal punishment was done with a gymshoe and not so much 'immediately' as 'when convenient'. It was always referred to as 'the slipper'. If you accumulated more than so many of the lesser punishments in a week you were summoned by the head prefect - and slippered. I have no idea how often I was hauled up under this system but it must have been well into double figures. A hefty dose of the slipper could be every bit as painful as the cane. If you find that hard to credit, imagine a twelve-year-old boy, wearing nothing more than pyjamas, touching his toes, and a strong eighteen- or nineteen-year-old using a size twelve gymshoe to beat him, with a good run up and every ounce of strength he could put behind it. I have seen boys with bruises that lasted over a week on their backsides, and have even seen blood drawn – through trousers! So getting the slipper was no easy option.
Overall, in the five years that I was a junior boy in the school – that is, up to the age of fifteen – there were very few weeks when I wasn't slippered at least once – and often more. But you need to bear in mind that with a slipper it was possible to administer a considerable variation of punishment, from a few taps, that left your backside tingling a bit, up to a full scale leathering that would have you wincing every time you sat down for a couple of days. With a cane, if you go easy on the boy you're punishing, he won't feel anything through trousers, but as soon as you put enough force into it to do any good it becomes really painful. So, most of these slipperings stung a bit, but weren't the terrible thrashings that you suggest. All of us took the slipper for granted. Sometimes, it was a very serious punishment, but mostly it was just something that you accepted and got on with your life.
The Whacking List did exist, though your version of the rules is a grotesque distortion. It was quite bad enough, but not the systematic torture that you make out. Certainly, the aim of it was to keep a boy's backside tingling for the whole time he was 'listed', and it's true that it worked by punishing him with the slipper regardless of the seriousness of the offence, and the maximum number of whacks went up from six to twelve. I suppose nowadays it would be called cruel and unusual punishment, but, My God, it was effective.
I was put on the List twice, both of them in my worst year, when I was fourteen. The first time I was kept on it for three weeks and I suppose I was slippered at least once every day. I remember one day I was whacked four times and I thought I was dying I was in such agony. They laid it across me so hard that a couple of times I was knocked off my feet. My backside was bruised for over a fortnight afterwards. But do you seriously think I could have stood up to such treatment if they'd been using a cane? And, what's worse, doing it on my bare backside? I was a pretty tough boy, but not that tough.
And I'd learned my lesson, after a fashion, because when they put me on it again – and I don't remember what I'd done to make that necessary – I crept about the place and was generally a little angel, and they only managed to slipper me about half a dozen times in the week they kept me on it. That list was absolute hell. Your version of it is just plain impossible.
And then there's the character of Amery, who for some reason you've invented and foisted on me. None of the prefects that I knew were capable of that amount of care. I suppose he's based on Abraham, who, as far as I was concerned, was a complete and utter bastard. If I had £100 for every time he slippered me I'd be a rich man, and there was no subtlety with him; every whacking was as hard as he could possible make it. He was the only one who went out of his way to punish me when I was in pyjamas or games kit so it would hurt even more. I think he was some kind of pervert – and you've turned him into a saint! I'm not an emotional man, but that _d_a_m_n_ well hurts.
Our PT master certainly whacked us and was more inventive than other masters. Over the course of five years I remember him using a cane, a gymshoe, a length of skipping rope and bit of leather strap, and of course we were always in gymshorts for his whackings. But he too never to my knowledge punished a boy with nothing on. As to the suggestion that I would send my son to a school knowing that he would be beaten on the bare bottom, I reject it utterly.
And why have you changed my name? I want no more of this travesty. Leave me and my childhood alone. I know where you live.
Sir Martin Henson
Dear Sir Martin,
Your letter came as a total surprise. I have never heard of you before, nor do I know anything at all about your childhood. I agree it sounds rather like the events I wrote about in The Whacking List, but that is pure coincidence, believe me.
The events and characters in the story are indeed based on fact, but not on the facts that you claim.