On Corporal Punishment. A Serious Meandering.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

In my last blog post I discussed pain and corporal punishment; two subjects that are quite obviously inextricably linked. I wonder what readers of that offering made of my musings? I candidly admitted behaviour that was clearly unacceptable of a 13 year old boy and needed addressing so I'm guessing the Daily Mail type consumer of online, idiotic ramblings might regard two strokes of the cane as nothing more than hors d'oeuvres to a thrashing resulting in near death. In contrast your average Guardian reader would probably recommend the miscreant be given a two week summer break at the expense of the tax payer and the teacher administering the punishment be offered counselling for issues clearly resulting from a tortured childhood.

Personally I sit somewhere between the two. I don't believe that perpetrating acts of violence against children achieves anything but the creation of violent adults. And my personal experience shows that when the child in question has no fear of the punishment, you can whip him all you like.

I wonder too what drives someone tasked with the care of children to choose beating with a stick over an alternative, non violent punishment? My own experience here is interesting. I told you of my third year art teacher, and the clay vase destruction, but there was another more disturbing occasion which too emanated from the art block.

I remember it was sometime around 1980 and having a supply teacher for the day because our own was off sick or something. We were instructed to create a picture of snakes in charcoal. I was always a bit of a dab hand at drawing so before I knew it I had two serpents, intertwined on the paper in front of me. I looked around and none of my fellow pupils had yet completed their task so I sat there with not much to do. The creative side of my began to take over and with the flourish of a hand and a flash of charcoal a Doctor Marten boot was drawn appearing from the top edge of the paper.

Again, my fellow pupils were still engrossed in the creation of their snakes so I flipped my paper over and began a spot of free drawing on the underside. Now my creative juices really got going and after 10 minutes I had a naked woman sat on a loo....in my opinion this was REAL art. Why was the woman naked? What time of day was it? Was she performing a number one or two? Was this her own loo or that of a friend?

Unfortunately the supply teacher's opinion didn't concur with mine. He was clearly flustered by the impressively endowed woman staring at him from the paper and I was sent to the Head of art, Mr Robinson, to show him my creation.

'Fuck that,' I thought and headed off to the loo where I disposed of the picture and waited for my next lesson.

It was while I was sat in Spanish that Mr Robinson came to find me. I was removed from the class and marched unceremoniously to Mr Robinson's office. Up until that point I'd had no interaction with the head of art and had no reason to have ever been in his office. Upon entering one of the first things I noticed were three lengths of bamboo of differing thicknesses.

'Tell me about this picture you drew, Waterman, ' demanded Mr Robinson.
'It was a naked woman sitting on the bog, Sir,' I replied sheepishly.
'Where is it?'
'I ripped it up and threw it away, Sir.'
'Why didn't you report to me as instructed?'
'Because I was scared, Sir.'

With that Mr Robinson sat back in his chair and looked into my eyes. 'You've never been before me, have you, Waterman?' He asked.
'No, Sir.'
'There's nothing wrong in drawing or painting nudes,' said the head of art. 'Some of the finest works of art depict naked women.'

At this point my spirits began to lift. Mr Robinson was clearly a man who appreciated my talent.

'But there is something wrong when you fail to follow instruction,' he added menacingly.
My elevated spirits again took a plunge. But they dipped even lower when Mr Robinson reached behind him and retrieved the largest piece of bamboo which must have been at least four inches in diameter.

'Now, Waterman, boys who continually appear before me become familiar with my friend, basher. He's quite a thing and not someone you ever want to get involved with,' said Mr Robinson as he caressed the largest cane. Then he replaced the four incher and retrieved a second cane that had a diameter of about an inch and a half.

'This is my other friend, whacker,' said the head as he looked closely at the inch and a half bamboo. 'If you ever appear before me again you and he will become good friends.'

Then he drew the smallest diameter cane from behind him and slashed it through the air. 'This,' he said menacingly, 'is tickle. And it is tickle who I will introduce you to today. Now are you right or left handed?'

'Right, Sir.'
'Then hold your left hand out straight and do not move.'

I offered my left hand and stood there quivering. Mr Robinson looked me in the eyes and raised the cane above his head. He paused momentarily then brought the cane down toward my hand. I heard it cutting through the air and briefly marvelled at the arc created by the air's resistance. I say briefly because my sense were assaulted by a loud 'CRACK' as the cane struck my hand.

Momentarily there was nothing. Then I felt the pain and saw the ugly welt that was forming across my palm.

'I told you not to move, boy,' said Mr Robinson with a look of unfulfilled lust in his eyes.
'I didn't move, Sir,' I protested.
'You moved your hand and now you've lied. Hold your hand out again.'

For a second time Mr Robinson went through the act of issuing corporal punishment to a 13 year old boy. And for a second time the cane slammed into my palm, creating a second welt across my flesh. This time I swear I saw Mr Robinson's feet leave the ground as he got as much of his body weight into the act as possible.

Beads of sweat appeared on the teacher's brow and he collapsed into his seat.

'Get out.' He said.

I knew better than to tell my parents that I'd been caned. Those were the days when the idea of an irate parent visiting the school to challenge an over zealous teacher was unheard of. Those were the days when a second helping of pain, care of my old man, was the order of the day.

As the years have passed I've thought about this and have realised that Mr Robinson enjoyed some kind of sadistic pleasure in delivering corporal punishment. I've dreamed too of bumping into Mr Robinson in my adult years and exacting vengeance. Of course, 33 years on he's probably an old man and not someone I might feel comfortable with slapping. But I'd have a fuckin' good go at scaring the evil bastard.