I was asked how I felt about using the cane myself as House Captain in my last year of school. I'm going to try and answer that now as well as I can but it's hard to remember that far back, and also a little difficult to be sure how accurate my memories are given this has been an erotic focus for me for over 30 years.
First of all, I must say that I didn't really expect to be a House Captain. I dreamed about it - in fact, I dreamed about being Captain of the School - but I didn't really think it would happen. I was two years younger than most of my classmates, it didn't seem likely I'd get the nod. I thought I had an outside chance of being a prefect, though.
Basically we had twelve prefects, five House Captains, and the Captain of the School - the six captains were all prefects as well, but had additional powers. Prefects were pretty powerless at my school - it was something that was nice to be able to say you were. Their only official disciplinary power was through the Prefect's Meeting which was held once a week (it could be convened more often) - any prefect could refer any boy to the Meeting for a 'trial' and punishment. We'd hear the evidence and hold a secret ballot on whether we felt the boy was guilty or not guilty (balance of probability - not beyond reasonable doubt) - we'd also write down our punishment suggestions if we had any. To be found guilty, a minimum of 12 of us had to agree - the School Captain then decided what punishment should be carried out - he'd read our suggestions but wasn't bound by them (and he only voted himself in cases where his vote could make a difference - basically if we returned 11 guilty votes). The Captain could impose a caning in a prefect's Meeting - and some did so fairly often - but other punishments were also quite common. The Meeting was the prefect's only real power - although a clever prefect could impose other punishments by using a report to the meeting as a threat.
But the captains had the power to use the cane - House Captains over boys in their own house, the Captain of the School over any boy in the school (except prefects).
Now - from fourth form on, I was trying to work out how to become a prefect - I really, really wanted that (I also felt I needed it, if I wanted to do well outside the school), and there seemed a chance it'd be achieveable - while most prefects were sports types, the Dux of Fifth Form nearly always got in, especially if he took on other responsibilities.
And so I started volunteering for everything I thought I could do - I was Deputy Editor of the student magazine from Fourth Form onwards (not hard - nobody else wanted the job), I was President of the Science Club, I was in the Drama Club, I volunteered for every house sporting team (I wasn't bad at sports - I was just a little young to be good - but showing willing was important - "if you can't be good, at least be there.") And I studied - school work was fairly easy for me in the sense I could pass - and even do well - with minimal effort - but now I wanted to be the best - and I worked really hard at it.
But the big thing that made me a House Captain was mostly out of my control. It was the Vietnam War.
Just as it was in the US, Vietnam was very controversial within Australia - and when I was in Fifth Form, matters started coming to a head. Massive demonstrations were organized against Australian participation in the war. And in our politically active school, passions ran fairly deep.
Most of us supported the war - most of us weren't particularly sophisticated on this issue, the basic view we had was that we had to support our troops - and that questioning the war was somehow unpatriotic. Most of us were conservatives - given the typical background of the students at the school, that wasn't surprising. But not all were pro-war - we had some who were opposed to the war. And one of them was the editor of our school magazine.
He quit after the Master-In-Charge spiked a whole issue - it wasn't a particularly bad issue - I was involved in putting it together as well, and I was a supporter of the war, and to me it seemed fairly balanced - yes, it put the anti-war side (and that's why it got spiked) but it wasn't all one way.
I had to put together an issue quickly that would pass muster. And I did so - and this issue was *anything* but balanced. But it was popular with quite a number of my school friends, especially the ones who didn't like the anti-war students - and I wound up as a kind of figurehead leader of the pro-war side of the debate in the school. It didn't hurt that I had the credential of having a father who'd been killed in Vietnam.
The end result of all this, was that when it came time for the new House Captains to be appointed, I had enough popularity that the Masters who made the decision (no elections) felt I could exert control over my fellows, despite my age, and I was Dux of Fifth Form besides - so I got the nod.
I found out about a week before I was actually to start my duties. I received a letter informing me of my appointment and asking me to return to school a day early to be instructed in my responsibilities. As I was already back at the school by this time, that wasn't a major problem - but I know the newly appointed School Captain only got his letter the day before he had to report.
Anyway - on the appointed day, I found myself in the Headmaster's study with my fellow Captains - one of the few times I'd ever been glad to be in there until that point. The Head congratulated us on our appointments and gave us a long and mostly very boring lecture about responsibilities - and the minutiae involved. The interesting bit (for people reading this) came towards the end. I can't recite it verbatim, or even come close - but I'll try and write it the way I remember it.
"Gentlemen - you have another responsibility, of course. That, of helping the staff to maintain discipline and order. I want you all to understand that this is one of your most important responsibilities. The other boys expect you to be reasonable and fair, but they also expect you to enforce the rules rigorously. You need to do that from the start - otherwise they'll think you can get away with murder. So I want you to start the way you mean to go on. If you make a mistake - if you get it wrong, it's not a disaster - but if you don't even try, you're not even going to be worthy of your position. Because we expect you to maintain order, we give the power to do so - you can use the cane. I shouldn't have to tell you, this is a grave responsibility - you've all been on the receiving end so you understand how seriously you need to take this. I shouldn't need to tell you the rules - but so there is absolutely no confusion, let me explain the situation. You may only administer corporal punishment using the cane - yes, I know not all teachers follow that rule strictly, however you will. You do not strike a boy with your hands - except to defend yourself, or in the boxing ring, obviously. You may only administer the cane across a boy's buttocks. You may give no more than six strokes - I would recommend that you limit yourselves to four strokes or less to keep an ultimate deterrant in reserve. If a boy refuses to accept the cane, you send him to me - you do not try and force him to submit - well - except verbally. You can try reasoning with him, in fact, you should - but don't get yourself into a brawl over this. You cane across a boy's normal clothing - that will nearly always be his uniform, but occasionally in the boarding houses, you might wind up caning a boy across his pyjamas - if that happens, adjust accordingly - generally I'd say give one less stroke. To forestall a question I've been asked before - if a boy is misbehaving in the showers, you let him get dressed before you cane him. Don't carry the cane around as a meaningless threat. Your cane should remain in your room unless you are actually planning on using it - or, at least, any threat you make should be one you are prepared to carry out, if necessary. Before and after using a cane, check it for damage - you have two in your room - one should be used until it breaks or cracks - and then you can get another from me. They do crack occasionally - but if you start going through them at a rate of one a week, we will have words. When you use the cane, you do not have to use a great deal of force - you gentlemen do not give 'six of the best' even if you are giving six strokes - although there's no particular reason you need to let your fellow pupils know that. As prefects, you are exempt from normal corporal punishment - the only people with the power to administer corporal punishment over you are myself, your House Masters, and the Matron. This has rarely proven necessary in the past - but please understand that if I find you have used the cane carelessly, I will begin by doubling whatever you've inflicted - honest mistakes are one thing - though do try and avoid them - but you should never cane without a good reason. My door is always open to you. If you have any questions, come and see me. If you make a mistake - come and see me."
At the end of our indoctrination session, I went up to my bedroom - which doubled as a study. This was luxury - it was the first time since I was 10 that I had a room of my own. And it was fairly large - other six formers had two people in a room this size. Sitting on my desk as I came in were two canes - about three feet long with the traditional curved handle.
I picked one up and looked at it - I'd never really had a good chance to study a cane in detail, but they were hardly complicated instruments. I gave it a few experimental swings and it made a nice swishing sound through the air.
And that's the point I really remember beginning to think about using the cane.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I think I'm a 'caning success story'. When I started at the school I was a fairly rebellious, rather lazy, undisciplined boy. I did a lot of minor things wrong - and a couple of fairly serious ones as well, in my first couple of years at the school - and when I was caught, as often as not, I was caned for it. I also got farmed out during the school holidays to other boys homes, and a few times in those situations, I was physically punished as well, by my friend's parents. My behaviour improved a lot over time (I wasn't an angel - I still had a couple of significant brushes with the rules) - and I regarded the fact I'd been caned as a major reason why that had happened. I still do, in fact.
At this stage, at the start of my sixth year at the school, I was seeing a lot of potential stretching out ahead of me - I knew that, in a very real sense, the world was my oyster. I had the chance to go to university and Duntroon (my main aims at the time) at the end of my schooling - and I could to it despite having no real money of my own (I had a very small inheritance held in trust) because I knew I'd worked hard enough to get scholarships, and the position I held in the school would only be a help with that.
My point is that I very much believed then - and to an extent, I still do, I'm just not convinced it was the only way - that the fact I'd been subjected to the cane had had a very positive effect on my life and prospects. I was convinced that caning was, overall, a good thing that used appropriately, could really benefit a boy. And I was also - well, it sounds corny, but I was humbled and moved by the trust the school had placed in me, and I wanted to be worthy of that - and it seemed to me the best way I could do that, was to try in whatever way I could, to give other boys the same opportunities I'd been given.
Yes, I was a sentimental sap - but it was still true.
Other factors - I wasn't yet 15 (my 15th birthday was a few weeks away). I was the same age as the average Fourth Former. Now I had few concerns about my ability to deal with boys in my own form, or even the fifth form - they knew me, and I thought they'd respect my authority. But the third and fourth formers did worry me - kids about my own age, many of whom were not incredibly well behaved, and who I now had to exert control over. I wanted to be worthy of my position - I wanted to maintain control. And I basically decided the way I had to do that was to come down on them hard to begin with - to make them know I was in charge. And on my desk I had one of the best tools I knew about to make a boy take you seriously.
At this age, I still didn't have any type of sexual interest in caning - at least none I acknowledged - it was probably only a bit over a year or so since I'd started having any particular sexual interest in anything at all. I don't think that had any bearing on my thinking at all - but I suspect that even if it had, I'd have tried to suppress it - any form of 'deviant' sexual behaviour (and I'd have seen it that way, then) was not something I was ready to acknowledge - we told jokes sometimes where the humour was in suggesting a Master had a sexual interest in caning boys, and the idea quite disturbed me.
I remember the first caning I gave quite vividly - indeed, I remember a lot of the canings I gave vividly, but this one does stand out in my mind.
It was about a week after the year started, and I was just getting back into the routine of the school, coupled with my new duties as House Captain. We'd had a Prefect's Meeting that day, and the Captain's had compared notes - only two of us had caned anyone yet, and one of those felt he'd completely loused it up. He mentioned that he'd 'missed' - apparently the cane was harder to control than he thought. So on this evening, I'd closed my door and taken out one of my canes to see how accurate I was.
I cast around looking for some sort of target, I could hit and not damage and settled on a rolled up pair of socks. I placed them on my on the end of my bed at a height that I felt roughly corresponded to a boys backside while bending. And I took aim and caned the socks - I found that I could only be accurate if I didn't swing too hard - if I tried to put too much force behind it, I tended to miss about half the time - I kept practicing for about twenty minutes, until I was hitting nearly all the time with fairly hard strokes - but I was concerned that my target area wasn't the right size. I headed down the hall to our shower and toilet area - where there was a mirror.
To my embarrassment, someone did walk in while I was standing with my back to a mirror trying to work out precisely how large the target area I had to deal with was. He gave me a bit of a funny look, but walked past. As I left, I had an idea - I picked up a cake of soap from above the sinks. It struck me that it was probably smaller than the area I needed to hit - so if I could hit the cake of soap reliably, I'd be confident of my accuracy.
I returned to my room and put the cake of soap on the bed - and I took a good hard stroke at it. And missed. I was annoyed. It seemed to me that the only way I could hit the target I wanted to was to swing so gently I was worried it wouldn't be effective. I decided accuracy was my first priority - so I lifted the cane again, and brought it down in a firm stroke, without putting much strength behind it at all.
The cane hit the cake of soap near dead centre - and it shattered into about four large pieces (and lots of little soap shards - I was still finding them weeks later). The big bits flew about three or four feet across the room. At that point I stopped having concerns about the effectiveness of these 'gentle' strokes.
Then there was a loud crashing noise almost directly above my head - and I mean very loud - I almost jumped out of my skin. I knew the house well by this stage - I knew what was above me was the First Form dormitory, and I charged out the door to see what was going on - ran upstairs and arrived in the room pretty quickly. I still had the cane in my hand - and as I entered the room, all the first form boys' eyes seemed to focus on it. Some were still in bed - this was a few minutes after their bed time, but before lights out - they had some time they could read in bed.
Lying across one of the beds was a large bookcase. Books were scattered everywhere.
"Is anyone hurt?" I could see a couple of other older boys were lifting the bookcase - and it was obvious and lucky that nobody was underneath it. That bed was one of a number that were unoccupied at the time.
I cast my eyes around trying to remember which one was Roberts - he was standing behind the bookcase as the two older boys struggled to lift it - I could see that it had been fixed to the wall, but the hooks had pulled free.
"Roberts, come here."
He slowly came across the room.
"Are you hurt?"
"No, I rolled off the bed."
"You were under that when it fell?"
"Um... not exactly."
"Well, where were you?"
In a very quiet voice, "I was on it."
I rapidly established the facts - and thinking back to my first form days, that wasn't hard. The first form dormitory, like the other junior dorms, had bookcases along one wall, wardrobes along the other, with rows of beds between them. A common diversion was to try and get along the bookcase wall by inching along the shelves. This was expressly forbidden - it was even written down on the list of rules behind the dormitory door.
A lot of other boys had arrived at this point - the loud bang had attracted attention. The House Master wasn't in the house at the time - I could always summon adult assistance - it wasn't hard, but I was supposed to try and deal with these situations myself.
I looked at one of the other sixth formers - "Rodney - I don't think we can get that bookcase back in place now - and I don't want it just standing there. Do you think you can get it outside? With help, I mean? I have to deal with this little twit."
"Yeah - I think so - leave it to me."
He was captain of the rugby team - fairly big guys.
"Roberts - come with me."
I lead the way to my room.
"Right, Roberts - I assume you've read the Dormitory rules." Basically, I had him either way - if he hadn't read the rules, he'd have been in trouble for that.
"Yes... what do I call you?"
"Oh - I'm Rysher. I'm House Captain." I had introduced myself on the first day, but they did have an awful lot to try and remember.
"Yes, Rysher. I did read the rules."
"So you knew you're not allowed to use the fixtures as some sort of climbing frame?"
"Right - well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to cane you."
What on earth did he think I was carrying the thing around for?
"I'm afraid I can. And I intend to."
"But... I didn't know boys could do that."
He looked really scared - and I don't blame him. I did feel some sympathy - I'm sure everybody else was egging him on, and I'm sure he wasn't the first one in his dorm to do it - he was just the poor guy who happened to have been doing it when the bookcase fell. I was half inclined to let him off - but besides anything else, I was going to have to explain to the House Master why we needed to get a carpenter, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to that.
"Roberts - what's your first name?"
"Well, William, there's only two boys who can cane you - me and the School Captain. But we can."
"Ever been caned before?"
"No - my school before didn't use it."
"Did they use anything?"
"Ever had that."
"Have your parents ever smacked you?"
He seemed embarrassed. "Mum has - a couple of times."
"Just her hand."
Now I'd started at this school with even less experience of physical punishment than that - but my parents hadn't planned on sending me to the school. Frankly, I was a bit annoyed at Roberts' parents - I couldn't work out what type of parents would send their son to a school that regularly used the cane, so ill prepared to receive it. I also decided that I wouldn't be doing him any favours in the long term by letting him off. I remembered my absolute terror the first time I was caned, a feeling I never had about a caning again - once I'd had one the fear changed - in some ways it was worse, because I was under no illusion about the fact that it would really hurt me - but in most ways, knowing what to expect made it a bit easier. My view was that if I let Roberts go away unpunished, he'd already have suffered the terror he was feeling. And he'd suffer it again next time - and there would be a next time.
I grabbed my desk chair and placed it in front of him.
"Bend over and grab the seat."
He was wearing only his pyjamas - something I was grateful for, because it gave me a very legitimate excuse to limit the caning.
I took up position, raised the cane - and exactly as I had when I broke the soap, I brought it down right across his pyjama clad bottom. He let his breath out in a loud explosion and stood up, his hands swinging around to grasp his backside.
Normally, on my own experiences that would have lead to extra punishment - but I wasn't going to do that. I grabbed his shoulder and turned him so he faced me. He was crying.
"William - I'm going to leave it at that, this time. But I warn you - when you're caned, you're expected to stay down and stay in position until it's over - and you'll normally get more than one. I'd seriously advise you to remember that next time you're caned."
The words "next time" seemed to make his eyes go wide for a second.
"All right - let's go back to your dorm."
By the time I got back up there, the bookcase had been removed - apparently it took six guys so it was very lucky nobody was under it. The lights were still on, and everybody was watching as we came in.
"All right, you lot - listen to me. We have rules for a reason - you've seen the reasons tonight - if that bookcase had hit someone, they could have been killed. But if that's not enough for you - well, ask Roberts what happens to people who break the rules in this school - because I can tell you, it's not pleasant."
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