The following describes one of the rare occasions when I did tell a boy how many strokes I intended to give him prior to a caning - and also one of those occasions where applying the cane gave me a great deal of personal satisfaction.
This would have been about a month into my final year at school, I think - maybe a little bit longer. Sport was taken very seriously at my school - and those who were good at it, often seemed to feel a little superior to everyone else - and sometimes seemed to think that normal rules didn't fully apply to them.
In my House, one of my fellow sixth formers - call him Alan Pike - was something special as an athlete - he was captain of the school First XI and of the First XVIII - two of the three most prestigious teams in the school, so he was a big deal. He'd expected to be House Captain - and if it hadn't been for his history as a bully, he would have been. Until he was in Fourth Form, he'd been by far one of the worst bullies around - I'm honestly surprised that he wasn't expelled. I'd had to share a dormitory with him for three years - and while he was bullying, I came in for a fair amount of ill treatment from him - I was never one of his worst targets, but I was convenient at times that others weren't. Mid way through Fourth Form, as he started to get responsibility in sporting teams, his general bullying declined considerably.
By sixth form, we generally got along reasonably well - but not perfectly. I still harboured some ill feeling for what he'd done to me, and I'm pretty sure he resented me having the Captaincy.
It was late Saturday afternoon, and I was walking past the cricket nets - when I saw that Alan was bowling to a second form boy. It seemed slightly unusual to me, for the school's top cricketer to be doing that so my attention was drawn to it. And I watched as the younger boy was hit around the legs and crumpled. He wasn't wearing pads - I recognized him - he was in my house as well - as one of the school's more promising young cricketers - he was captain of his form level team.
Alan called out. "Get up." And I watched as the boy did - and I watched as another fast ball was bowled down at him. This one bounced and caught him in the chest. He grimaced and kept batting. Not every ball hit him - but enough did that I was pretty much convinced Alan was aiming to hit him. I wasn't a brilliant cricketer myself, but I wasn't totally clueless.
"Oi! Alan - shouldn't he be wearing pads?"
Alan turned around and looked at me. "Piss off, Nathan. I'm doing some training."
Now - all right, he was in charge of this. But this didn't look like training to me. At least not any conventional form.
"I think he's had enough."
"Really? And you're an expert, are you?"
"No, but I'm your House Captain - and his. And I'm telling you, he's had enough."
"All right - fine." Alan hurled the cricket ball he had in his hand at me - hard but I caught it - and stalked off. I moved over to the younger boy - Harry.
"Are you all right, Harry?"
"OK - let's get the gear back to the change rooms."
I helped him pick up the loose balls that were lying around and walked down with him to the change rooms. He headed into the showers while I stowed the equipment. I walked to the shower room to find out which bag was his so I could stick his bat in it - and was pretty much horrified at what I saw.
He was covered in bruises. All up his legs, all along his arms and on his chest. He was a wreck.
"Yeesh - you need to see the Matron about those."
"What do you mean I can't?
"Pike said I wasn't allowed to."
"Hang on - did those come from him?"
"Most of them."
I got the story out of him - being able to threaten the cane made people pretty cooperative most of the time - and I think he wanted to tell someone. It turned out that Alan Pike did this fairly often with players who displeased him.
Now, to an extent, I didn't have a massive problem with that - up to a point. But he'd had young Harry in the nets for well over an hour - and he'd hit him probably a hundred times - that was going way too far. And the fact he'd told Harry not to see the Matron - that was really not on.
I decided I needed to talk to him about it - I didn't plan to do anything more than that.
And so when I headed up to the House - dropping Harry off at the infirmary on the way - if Alan didn't like it, he could blame me, I placed a notice on the House board that I wanted to see Alan after dinner - normal way of communication, we were required to check the board whenever we entered the house - and people would also tell others if they saw a message for them there.
Just after seven, he appeared at my door.
"You wanted to see me, Nathan."
"Yeah, come in, please."
I didn't ask him to sit down - because I only intended this to take a minute. I told him that I'd seen Harry's bruises and I felt that was unacceptable. And I told him that if I ever saw a repeat of that type of incident, I'd treat it as bullying.
He was not impressed. He accused me of trying to interfere with his position. He told me that he would carry out his duties in any way that he liked. And that he wasn't going to listen to a jumped up little boy like me, telling him how to do his business. He advanced on me as he said these things, and I could see that he was still a bully - he was trying to intimidate me in the exact same way he had done when we were younger. And it became clear to me that he hadn't stopped being a bully - his authority in sports had simply given him an avenue to do it in a way where he could get away with it. Well, I wasn't going to tolerate that. I stood up and pushed past him. I closed the door and pulled out my desk chair.
"Pike. Bend over and put your hands on the seat."
"You heard me."
"You have got to be kidding me."
"I'm not. Bend over."
"You pompous little... No. No way."
"One last chance. Bend over."
I grabbed a sheet of writing paper from my desk and scribbled out a note. "Alan Pike has refused to accept a caning from me for bullying. Please deal with him."
"Take this to the Headmaster."
"You fucking little shit."
I added to the note. "Pike has also sworn at me and used abusive language towards me."
"Take this to the Headmaster."
He advanced on me - raising a fist. I stood my ground - I had to. He stopped.
"Come on, Nathan..."
"Take this note to the Headmaster - or I'll do it myself."
Sanity was dawning in his eyes. He realized what he'd done. No matter what he thought of my authority, the Headmaster would back me up. He was facing an absolutely certain flogging at the absolute least.
"All right, Nathan. I'll bend over."
"No - you won't. You'll take that note to the Headmaster. Right now."
"Oh... come on. Please."
"Get out and take that note with you."
He sat down heavily in the chair I'd pulled out. His face was flushed - I realized that he was actually almost crying.
"Please, Nathan... Rysher. He'll do me. He'll do me if I take this to him. I'll be gone."
It was possible. Expulsion could have been an option - especially if he had something else hanging over him - and for all I know, he might have done.
"I don't care. As far as I'm concerned you deserve whatever you get."
"Nathan - you can't do this to me. Look, all right. I did the wrong thing. I'm a fool. I'm a total fool. Please - please don't send me to the Head with that note. He'll kick me out and my dad'll kill me. I mean that. Please - don't do that to me, because I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry." At this point, he was crying. "Give me six - for God's sake, give me twelve, I won't complain - just don't send me to the Head."
His pleas got to me. I didn't really want to see him expelled - I was angry, and I felt he deserved serious punishment - but not expulsion. At least not expulsion which I was in anyway responsible for.
"If I rip up this note - I'd better never catch you doing what you did to Harry, again."
"All right. I promise."
"All right - I'm giving you six. And I'm putting you on report for the next Prefects' Meeting for abusive behaviour to a Prefect." That would almost certainly get him another six.
"Bend over and put your hands on the seat of that chair."
He stood up and complied. I went and got my cane from my wardrobe.
When I caned him, I did my best to really, really, make it hurt. I swung the cane as hard as I thought I could while still maintaining a reasonable level of accuracy. I attempted to land the cane as close as possible to its end across his buttocks, so the bit that traveled furthest and fastest would hit. I paused between strokes to let it sink in and to extend his misery.
I wanted to hurt him - and I did. And I relished every second of it. I reveled in it.
He was crying when I started - he was sobbing after two, he was bawling after four and he fairly screamed at number six.
I also got to see the damage I'd done - the following morning as we showered before chapel. I'd marked him - and I'd marked him well. He had bruises covering his whole bottom - especially his right cheek. I'd seen worse - but not very often.
I'm ashamed of it now - not of what I did to him, exactly, but rather of the fact that I did enjoy it so much - but at the time I was very proud of what I'd done.
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