I received my first caning on my tenth birthday. It was the late 1960s and I'd just become a boarder at one of Australia's oldest and most prestigious schools. I was regarded as something of a prodigy - I was still nine (nearly ten) when I started at the school and I was in a class made up mostly of 12 year olds (there were a couple of other boys like myself who'd been advanced but I was the youngest).
Until I started at this school I'd never experienced any form of physical punishment whatsoever. My mother was very much against it. By the standards of the time I wasn't a particularly well behaved boy I wasn't incredibly bad either, if I'd been a child today, I probably would be one of the better behaved kids around.
On my first day at this school, our Form Master, laid down the ground rules for us in no uncertain terms. The school didn't seem to have much in the way of formal rules - we were just expected to know what was and was not appropriate. He did tell us that smoking, fighting, bullying, and swearing would all be automatically punished by the cane, and that other misdemeanours could be as well.
Three weeks into the school year, I found out that he was very serious about this.
Now, I was the youngest in my class, but I didn't tell anyone that. I was among the smallest in the class as well - but I wasn't incredibly small, so I didn't stand out particularly. Anyway - it was my birthday, and this fact was mentioned by the house master's wife at breakfast. She also asked me if it was my eleventh or twelfth birthday and I had to admit it was my tenth.
This news got around the class pretty quickly - and during our morning break, I experienced a few snide comments about how young I was. It didn't particularly worry me - but I did make a few comments back at people - and one of those contained some *very* off-colour language. Boys swore, of course - but even when most of the boys at that school at that age swore, there were certain words they didn't use - but I did. And my form master came around the corner just as I said it "Master Rysher. With me. This instant."
He took off at a fair clip towards our classroom block. I almost had to run to keep up. He didn't even look to see if I was following he simply assumed I was.
I was a smart kid - and I was remembering what he told us on the first day - swearing was a caneable offence. I was scared - I couldn't have been more scared. My heart was pounding, my mouth was dry - it felt like my tongue was swelling to fill my mouth.
I really didn't know what was coming - most of what I knew about caning came from comics and other books and none of that seemed encouraging - the hero of those books always seemed to be able to take their punishment in a brave and nonchalant fashion. I was almost wetting myself in fear.
The master arrived at his small office next to our classroom block and unlocked the door.
This was a very small room - Masters had studies which were reasonably spacious, but they were elsewhere - this office was just a convenience to be near our classes. Two chairs - a simple desk, and a couple of shelves for books.
"Empty your pockets onto the desk - then stand there." He reached up onto one of the shelves, and pulled down a 3 foot long length of rattan.
"Bend over and touch your toes."
I obeyed him - I didn't really see much choice. I'd been trying to think of an explanation or an excuse but he didn't even ask me to comment. He'd caught me in the act - obviously he didn't see any possible excuse - and I suppose really there wasn't one.
As soon as I was in position, there was a noise and then I felt a slash of pain across my buttocks. The pain was considerable (though later experience indicates that this was not a hard stroke at all) and was followed by a second stroke a moment later.
"Get your things and get out. And don't let me catch that type of language coming out of your mouth ever again."
I left the room with speed. I was crying, just a bit - but it actually hadn't hurt as much as I'd expected. I realized later that he'd gone very easy on me. That didn't happen again.
That night in the dormitory, I did show off my marks to the other boys in my dorm - but there really wasn't much in the way of marks. The others seemed rather disappointed - we'd heard such interesting descriptions of what a caned backside looked like. I found out later that they were often true.
That was the first caning I received - the first of many. I didn't keep count, but I was caned a lot - including a couple of 'floggings' which were administered across my bare backside, and one formal public beating. Eventually in my final year at the school, I was House Captain and I was empowered to use the cane myself.
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