The holidays ended and Sylvia and I went back to school. Each weekday I caught the bus to the nearest town of Wenford where I went to the boy’s grammar school, and Sylvia cycled the three miles to her girls’ private school at Farleigh Manor, which was in the opposite direction. We saw less of each other and, as far as I was concerned, there was never any sign of spanking. The events in the holidays with Sylvia and Yvonne, and then Barbara, began to seem very distant. As September rolled on, I began to believe that my voyeuristic adventures were over. One day towards the end of the month when I came home from school, my mother said, “Mrs Hews phoned to ask if you would go over and giver her a hand. She’s cleaning out a cupboard and is a bit scared there may be spiders. Do you mind going over to help? You don’t have to, you know. I told her you’re not too keen on creepy-crawlies yourself.” “That’s OK,” I said with false courage, because it was true that I disliked bugs, “I’m sure I’ll cope.” “Well don’t be too long. Remember what time we have tea.” I changed quickly and hurried over to the Hews house. Sylvia’s mother probably did only want me to crawl in a dark, cobwebby cupboard—I shuddered—but I had this feeling that there might be more to her call than that. At first I was disappointed and Mrs Hews directed me to a gloomy closet, but no terrors lurked within and I was soon back in warm light. “Where’s Sylvia?” I asked as casually as I could. “Is she not home from school yet?” “No. Her headmistress, Miss Bradshaw, phoned earlier. She told me Sylvia was to be given a detention tonight. It seems she and another girl have been bullying a third.” “Oh,” I said. But my heart was racing. Surely, when Sylvia got home… “She should be home soon,” Mrs Hews said grimly, echoing my thoughts, “and she’ll find a warm welcome awaiting her, I can tell you.” This was better and better—except, there was the time factor. We ate early, as soon as my father returned from work, which meant… I began doing some calculations. How long was a detention? Sylvia would be unlikely to hurry home. What…? “She’d better not be late,” Sylvia’s mother said, her words again coinciding with my own deliberations. She added, “It seems they pushed this girl’s head down the toilet. Would you believe that?” Well yes, I would, knowing the sorts of things that went on in my own school, but I kept quiet. “I told Miss Bradshaw she ought to cane the pair of them, but she told me the school does not believe in corporal punishment—I ask you!” No need to ask me. I was a firm believer in corporal punishment—so long as I wasn’t the one getting it! “But I gave her a pretty good idea of what Sylvia could expect and she promised to send her off sharp at the end of the forty-five minutes.” My brain whirred: four o’clock finish school plus forty-five minutes detention plus collect coat, satchel, have a pee plus three miles cycle ride home—Sylvia should be here any moment! And right on cue, I heard her wheel her bike round to the shed. Sylvia came apprehensively through the back door. She was wearing a green, belted gabardine raincoat, and green beret. Her hair was in a pigtail halfway down her back. Her eyes focused on me. “What’s he doing here?” she demanded, switching swiftly from apprehension to belligerence. Sylvia’s mother ignored the question. “Take your mackintosh off.” “But Mum…” “Now!” Pouting sulkily, Sylvia began to unbuckle the belt. “And you can take that sullen look off your face or I’ll wipe it off for you.” Sylvia managed to look marginally less surly as she unbuttoned her coat and took it off. Under it, she wore her winter uniform of green blazer, grey blouse, green and yellow striped tie, grey skirt, grey socks and black shoes. “I’ll go and hang my coat up in the hall,” she volunteered, beginning to move in that direction. “No. Leave it on that chair. And take off your blazer.” “But Mum…” “Do it!” “Send Philip home, please” wheedled Sylvia, adopting more conciliatory tactics. “He doesn’t have to be here.” Sylvia’s mollifying manner did her no good either as her mother simply ignored it. Sylvia put her blazer with her raincoat. “Now your skirt,” Mrs Hews said implacably. “No Mummy!” shouted Sylvia and she actually stamped her foot. “Tell that horrible boy to go home!” Sylvia’s mother stayed surprisingly calm. “There is only one horrible child in this house, Sylvia, and that is the one who puts smaller girls’ heads down toilets.” “It was just a joke. Anyway, she’s a horrible little sneak.” “Skirt off, Sylvia.” “Ooh!” moaned Sylvia, but she unbuttoned her skirt, stepped out of it and put it with her raincoat and blazer on the chair. She was now dressed in shoes, socks, her bottle-green school knickers, blouse, tie and, rather incongruously, her green beret. “And you had better take those shoes off as well; I don’t want you kicking me like you did last week.” Last week! For the first time there was confirmation of the spankings that I felt sure went on when I was not around. “It’s not fair,” muttered Sylvia, bending to untie her laces. The bottle-green knickers stretched tightly across her plump buttocks. I enjoyed the sight while I could, confident that it would not be long before those knickers were dangling down her legs. Sylvia took off her shoes and put them under the chair with her other clothes. Mrs Hews sighed. “Do take off that beret, Sylvia. You shouldn’t be wearing it inside and in your present state of undress it makes you look very silly.” “Oooh!” whined Sylvia, and snatched the hat from her head and put it with the rest. “Good,” said Sylvia’s mother, calmly. Now I am going to give you a very sound spanking.” “Oh please, Mummy! I won’t bully anyone ever again. We didn’t really hurt her and it was all Diane’s idea anyway.” “Now who’s the sneak, Sylvia? Not that Diane’s part in this affair is no significance to me. I am sure her mother will deal with her appropriately.” “No she won’t,” Sylvia said excitedly. “Her mum’s expecting a baby really, really soon—it’ll be born any minute, Diane says—and so her mum can’t spank her properly because of the bump and stuff. And her Dad’s at sea ’cause he’s in the Navy. So it’s not fair for me to be spanked, is it? Not if Diane is going to get off with it.” “Do stop twittering on, child,” Sylvia’s mother said wearily. “I’ve already told you that Diane is not any concern of mine, although I’d be happy to lend her mother a hand if she asks me! However, you are my responsibility and I am not going to let bullying go unpunished. Come over here and get across my lap.” “Oooh, Nooo!” wailed Sylvia, and burst into tears. This surprised me because Sylvia was generally rather brave, but I think that she had begun to hope for a last minute reprieve and when her hopes were dashed, the thought of what was bound to be a severe spanking overwhelmed her. Whatever the reason for the child’s distress, her mother was not impressed. “Well I suppose that just goes to prove the old adage that bullies are always cowards,” she said bleakly. “You are worse than Yvonne.” “No, I’m not!” Sylvia blazed back through her tears, stung by this insult to recover some of her usual aggression. “We’ll see. Over my lap.” With a final—for the moment—glare at me, Sylvia moved across the kitchen and bent over her mother’s lap. “And be a bit quicker next time,” snapped Sylvia’s mother, giving her left thigh a sharp slap. Then moved and pushed so that Sylvia’s position was so adjusted that her head slipped more towards the floor at one end and her feet left the lino at the other. “Good,” commented Sylvia’s mother in satisfaction, and she gripped the elastic waistband. “Oh, do you have to take my knickers down?” whinged Sylvia. Silly question, as they were already halfway down her legs. Sylvia’s mother wasted no more time in getting down to giving her daughter’s bare bottom a sound spanking. Her hand quickly connected with Sylvia’s unprotected skin leaving a pink print. The rosy spot spread across her cheeks deepening all the while. Sylvia’s grey-socked legs kicked the empty air as best they could, impeded as they were by the bottle-green knickers around her knees. “Ow! Wow! Ouch!” squealed Sylvia and her pigtail brushed the floor as her head shook this way and that. “Mummy…Ouch… please… Ow… stop it… Youch … no more… Aieow… PLEASE!” As usual, Sylvia’s pleading did her no good at all. Her mother just kept on spanking very briskly, reddening her naughty daughter’s bottom with every hearty smack. Sylvia’s legs kicked more wildly and the vigour of her actions dislodged her knickers from around her knees. They gradually made their way down her calves carrying with them one grey sock so that after a few minutes heavy-handed spanking they hung from one grey-socked ankle while the other leg was utterly uncovered, that sock having flown from Sylvia’s foot. Half a minute later, after a particularly energetic kick caused by a dazzlingly delivered slap, Sylvia propelled her school knickers clear across the kitchen. The spanking went on a long while after that with Sylvia kicking and crying strenuously, but her mother remaining adamantine in her determination to give her child a comprehensive tanning, which task she seemed to me to complete several times over—and presumably even more so for Sylvia whose bottom was on the receiving end of all that attention. At last, though Mrs Hews appeared to consider the task done to her satisfaction and released poor Sylvia who rolled off her mother’s and gently rubbed her bottom , jigging and boohooing with feeling. “Right, straight up to your room, girl, and stay there. I’ll bring up your homework and something to eat later.” Still crying loudly, Sylvia ran from the room, probably glad to be away from my prying eyes and her mother’s punishing hand. As for me, I saw that I should have been home for my own tea five minutes or more earlier. I quickly explained to Mrs Hews who said,” “Yes, you be off now, Philip, but see if you can come back after you’ve done your homework. I may have some more bug dusting to do!” And she gave me a broad wink. I hurried home. I was late for my tea, but in my house this was passed over with a mild admonition.. “Er, Mrs Hews asked me to go back and help her some more after I’ve done my homework,” I said. “Oh really, Philip, I don’t think you can go back there again tonight,” my mother said, rather crossly for her, “You’ve already been late for your meal through dashing over there the minute you came home. You’ll have to stay in tonight.” “But Mum…” I whinged. It was rare for me to be refused anything and I particularly wanted to go, as you may imagine. Luckily Dad intervened. “I think you are being a bit unreasonable, Mary. Philip is getting to be a big lad and it is not far to the Hews’ house. Mrs Hews has always been very friendly to Philip and helps us out whenever we want Philip to stay there. I think it’s good he wants to do something in return.” This made me quite the little hero, but, of course, my parents knew nothing of Sylvia’s spankings. “All right, “ my mother relented reluctantly under the reasonableness of these arguments, “but don’t be too late home. It’s a school day tomorrow, remember.” Normally I was diligent in my studies, but that evening I raced through my homework, making many careless errors on the way, which earned me a nagging from my Maths master and an unusually low mark in a History test, but nothing worse. As soon as I could I announced I was off to the Hews’ house. “Hello, Philip, you’ve soon finished your homework,” Mrs Hews said when I arrived. “Er, yes, it was only a few sums and some revision.” I glanced around. No sign of Sylvia. “Sylvia is doing her homework up in her room,” Mrs Hews said, once again following my thoughts. “I’ll give her another ten or fifteen minutes before I call her down.” How slowly time dragged for me, but I guess it must have been even worse for Sylvia waiting upstairs for the summons. Ten, twelve, thirteen minutes and seventeen seconds went by before Sylvia’s mother stood up and called, “Sylvia, come downstairs.” Sylvia came. She glanced at me but said nothing. I think she must have known I’d been invited back and had decided to acquiesce in my presence, rather than risk further maternal anger by complaining. She was wearing striped cotton pyjamas and a woolly dressing gown, possibly thinking that these bedtime garments offered most protection—although she must have known from the start that any idea of defence was doomed. Sylvia’s mother gave her another long lecture on the evils of bullying and then said, “Right Sylvia, go and fetch the clothes brush from the coat closet in the hall.” “The clothes brush! Oh no!” “Oh yes!” When Sylvia returned with the clothes brush I saw it was definitely one up on hair brush I had seen used once before.. It was much longer, being almost rectangular in shape apart being rounded at the end opposite the handle. It was made of dark brown wood, highly polished with a patina of great age. It was, I later discovered, something of and heirloom, having belonged originally to Mr Hews great-grandfather, so Sylvia represented the fourth generation of bottoms to have been whacked by the instrument. She had clearly been punished with it before to judge from the respect with which she handled it. “Please don’t use that on me, Mummy. I promise I’ll never ever bully anyone again.” “Probably not, Sylvia, but I think that will be even more likely after you’ve had a dose of this. Now, take off your dressing gown.” “Oooh ,” moaned Sylvia but obeyed without further argument. “Now your pyjama trousers—right off!” Sylvia sniffed unhappily, but again did not protest as her fingers twitched at the cord. She pulled at the bow and as it loosened the trousers fell to floor around her feet. She stepped clear of them and awaited further instructions from her implacable parent. “We’ll go through to the dining room,” Sylvia’s mother announced. We went: Mrs Hews first, Sylvia second and me bringing up the rear—or rather watching Sylvia’s rear! But what next? Sylvia and Yvonne had been memorably switched in this room, but why were we here? Was Sylvia to be bent over the polished round table? No. “Fetch those two dining chairs, Sylvia,” Mrs Hews directed, “and put them so their backs are together. You know how; you‘ve done it before.” Sniffing more loudly, Sylvia arranged the chairs as ordered so that there was a clear space around them. “You know what to do next, Sylvia.” Sylvia knelt on the seat of one chair, leant over so that her tummy rested on the two adjoining backs, and put her hands on the other seat. “Further over than that, Sylvia. Grip the edge of the other seat. Don’t try and tuck your bottom out of the way.” Sylvia obeyed, adjusting her position so that her bottom now stuck out further. Her mother took up a stance by her left hip. “I am only going to give you six with this, Sylvia, “ she announced, “as I spanked you quite soundly earlier.” To judge from Sylvia’s expression, she did not think this sentence especially lenient. Mrs Hews drew back the brush and then swept it swiftly down so that it smartly smacked against Sylvia’s stuck out bottom. “Yeeouch!” screeched Sylvia. An oblong band of hot red ran across Sylvia’s bottom cheeks. After a tense interval it was soon joined and partly overlaid by a second pattern that brought another shrill cry from its receiver. Another strained wait—and the flat back of the brush printed its shape in crimson. Sylvia’s hips twisted left and right and hot tears dripped from her face to the floor. A longer interlude—and wooden block beat against the schoolgirl’s tender skin. This time it took even longer for Sylvia’s wriggling cheeks to be comparatively still, but then Mrs Hews swung the implement in a sharp arc and cracked it again across the defenceless rear of her daughter. By now Sylvia was wailing and writhing wildly . Her mother waited a long time for her to settle down a little—and then whacked her really red bottom a sixth and final time. Sylvia’s mother allowed her to escape to her bedroom without any corner time and the girl rushed off howling loudly and clutching a very, very sore bottom indeed. About six or seven years later, when I was studying philosophy at university, I brought up the, ostensibly theoretical, question of whether a parent would be justified in beating her child for bullying a smaller child, since both instances depend on physical, rather than moral, superiority. To my surprise, two thirds of the other students took Mrs Hews point of view in the argument.