Elizabeth Aldrige, known today as Miss Wackham, put down the piece of paper, sighed and looked up at the ‘boy’ standing before her.
“Well, it’s not really good enough, is it?” she asked, mildly.
“No, Miss” the ‘boy’ replied, looking down in shame. Like most of the ‘boys’ at Miss Flogswell’s Academy, he was in his late forties, greying and balding on top. Also like most of the ‘boys’, he looked quite ridiculous in his school uniform. But not as ridiculous as the ‘girls’, ‘Miss Wackham’ reflected.
“I hope you don’t think I’ll be going easy on you just because it is your first time” she said, sternly, wondering whether in fact she should do exactly that. Did this idiot realise what he’d let himself in for?
“No, Miss Wackham” the ‘boy’ said, earnestly.
“As you know, we at the Flogswell Academy have strict standards for our pupils’ academic attainment, and enforce them on a weekly basis. Enforce them with corporal discipline, boy. Cor-por-al discipline.”
“Yes, Miss Wackham” he replied, breathing rather harder and going red. Elizabeth caught sight of his shorts, bulging right at her eye level and hurriedly looked back down at the report. It was all so complicated, she reflected. She much preferred her regular job in her dungeon. She would talk to the ‘slaves’ beforehand, find their limits, push them occasionally until stopped by a warning safeword and then let them beg to come. Here, the rule was that the school fantasy was maintained at all times: no safewords, no out-of-character behaviour…and strict school rules about appropriate punishment.
Which, if followed to the letter, would probably constitute criminal assault in this case, she thought.
“It’s really very simple” she said, tiredly. “Rote learning, boy, that’s our system.”
“Yes, Miss Wackham” he said.
“The teacher tells you what to learn, you learn it, you repeat it in the test. Is that too complicated for you?”
“I…I found some of the lessons very hard, Miss Wackham”, the ‘boy’ replied, sweating copiously and quite unpleasantly through his shirt. “I didn’t know it would be this difficult.”
“Difficult!” Elizabeth snorted. “Let’s go through and you can tell me how difficult it all was. History! You got a D-. Well that’s just dates and things. How difficult is that? The comment says that you were told to learn the dates of sixteen of the Kings and Queens of England and you knew almost none of them. Didn’t you bother to revise?”
“I got the right years, Miss Wackham”, the unhappy ‘boy’ replied. “I didn’t realise they wanted the month and day, too.”
“Pathetic” snorted Miss Wackham. “And what about this – maths. D! Slow on your times tables! Which ones?”
“The fourteen thousand, three hundred and fourteen times table, Miss Wackham. And the nine elevenths times table.”
Miss Wackham peered at him over her glasses. “Not very good at sums then, boy?”
“No, Miss” he replied.
Thinking of sums, she briefly reflected on the sums she needed to accumulate in order to retire from all this. She’d hoped to have given it all up by now, and moved to that long dreamed-of little cottage in Bournemouth. Maybe open a pet supplies shop. She’d been saving away her hard-won ‘tribute’ for a few years, and had quite a little nest egg put aside. Until the financial crisis had come along, swept up the nest , eggs and all, and smashed everything to little pieces. So here she was – still whacking the bottoms of aging perverts for a living, and likely to be doing so for quite a few years to come.
“What about this, then – modern languages? E-. Dreadful! Was that with Madame Sarka? She says here you didn’t learn any of the poetry she set. Not a single line without a mistake in it!”
“Yes Miss” he said, seeming close to tears. “But I don’t speak any Czech.”
“But you don’t have to know any Czech!” she replied, exasperated. “Madame Sarka set you some poetry to learn, and you learn it. You learn it in Czech, you write it down in Czech in the test. That’s what rote learning’s all about – we don’t care if you understand it or not!”
The ‘boy’ just hung his head in shame.
“Now by comparison, biology isn’t too bad” Miss Wackham said, judiciously. “ B-. But then Miss Hardpalm has given you a black mark for” – she squinted at the report – “Refusal to take part in scientific experiments with the rest of the class. What scientific experiments?”
“She was demonstrating the location of the body’s principal pain receptors, Miss”, he replied with a shudder.
“You do know disruptive behaviour in class merits an automatic use of the cane?” Miss Wackham inquired. He hung his head still further.
“And this last one…home economics. F. F! How could you get an F in home economics? That’s just cookery, isn’t it?”
“Went to the wrong classroom, Miss” he muttered. “One of the ‘girls’ told me it was in classroom 7. Then when I finally got to the right classroom, I – ”
“…got angry and emptied the lasagne she’d been making all over her head.” read Miss Wackham, shaking her head over the report.
“She had to go to matron to be cleaned up, Miss.”
Knowing the ‘girl’ in question, Miss Wackham privately thought that both the treatment in the cookery class, and matron’s likely cleansing techniques were probably the least that ‘she’ deserved. Still, couldn’t have unruly behaviour. Of course, ‘hazing’ new arrivals by getting them in trouble was a tradition. Give them a taste of the cane. The trouble was, this new arrival had already been due for a five-course banquet of the cane before being dropped in it so comprehensively by his cross-dressing classmate.
“So you spent the rest of the lesson in the corner, and got an F for home economics and a black mark – a second black mark – for disruptive behaviour.”
“And I had to clean up the mess over lunch break, Miss” the ‘boy’ added. “Miss Birch said I could eat the uncooked lasagne for my lunch.” He blenched slightly at the memory.
“Well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a daily report like this.” she said, shaking her head sadly. “The B- in Biology only merits the strap, but all the other grades mean the cane. And each count of disruptive behaviour is twelve strokes. Altogether, it’ll be…let me see. Well, sixteen strokes with the strap, obviously. But then that’ll be – ” she calculated silently for an instant – “ =fifty-eight strokes with the cane.”
“Oh Christ, please no – “ he burst out.
“Plus four for swearing takes us to sixty-two” she said quietly.
“Oh come on – for Chr- , I mean for mercy’s sake. It’s only a game.” Real tears were forming in his eyes.
“It most certainly is not a game.” She replied, primly. Miss ‘Flogswell’ was quite clear that there would be no negotiations or slipping out of character where the subject of discipline was concerned. This was what marked the establishment out, unlike those jolly japes schools in the North of England, where everyone was cheeking teacher all the time and laughing about jolly good whackings. This was hard-core. Very hard core.
Still…she thought about sixty-two strokes. She knew very well what the cane could do, and to do it sixty-two times on the same area of the body was going to cause some serious damage.
“Oh please” he sobbed, the tears coming fast and furiously now. “It’s my very first time. Couldn’t you just go a little bit easy for my very first time? I’ve got to go to work on Monday morning, you know?”
“Well…” Miss Wackham said, slowly, thinking hard. She didn’t really want to flog this new client off the school books. Maybe she could pretend to be using a triple-hard cane or something and only give him twenty… ?
“I’ve got to get in extra early on Monday, actually, while Tokyo is still open.” he added hurriedly, sensing some possible movement.
“Really?” Miss Wackham replied with interest. “What job do you do?”
“I’m in finance” the ‘boy’ replied. “Actually” – looking a little proud – “I manage a hedge fund.”
“Really.” Miss Wackham said again, grimly. She thought of her little nest egg. And of the cottage in Bournemouth. Her hand tightened on the handle of the cane.
“Well, I’m sorry, boy, but I can tolerate no exceptions to the rules. Sixty-two with the cane. On the bare, I think. Then I’ll finish you off with sixteen with the strap. Shorts down and bend over that chair!”
“But I – ”