Thursday, 18 February 2010

Fatal beatings...

I had my OB Magazine delivered the other day, and after checking if anyone I knew had died, (no names recognised for a change) I was pleased to see signs of progress at the Alma Mater after all these years.

Quite a lot has happened actually, but one thing stood out from a couple of commentaries by ‘Very Old Boys’ (i.e. older than me by several years...). It was the fact that they admitted that there were ‘not very happy times’, at the old place.

Schools like this could be brutal in the early part of the last century, probably even worse before that, and I was brought up on a diet of ‘Smith Secundus’, and ‘Tom Brown’s schooldays’, which supposedly prepared me for the worst.

It ain’t right to name and shame the place, but I once made a mental list of all the punishments which we endured in the sixties, and it now seems a ridiculous statement of control, usually undertaken by Prefects, who were only a couple of years older than those lads they tried to terrorise.

Jacket undone – 30 lines.

Talking after lights out – 30 or 60 lines, or three or four whacks with a house shoe by a Prefect.

Late for anything like meals or lessons – 30 or 60 lines.

Talking in prep - 30 or 60 lines.

Hands in pockets - 30 or 60 lines, or three whacks with a house shoe by a Prefect.

Lines delivered late - 30 or 60 more lines. (You had one day to write 30, two days for 60 etc, all up to 120 lines in four days).

More than eight punishments a term – Housemaster’s beating – often four with the cane.

General rudeness/cheek/slovenly behaviour/mucking about – anything from 60 lines to four with a house shoe or cane.

Serious crimes like smoking – a range of beating tariffs from four with a cane by the Head of House, to five or six by the Housemaster.

Really serious crimes like drinking – a School Prefect’s beating. Usually eight with one from each boy.

Does anyone now remember Malcolm McDowell in ‘If’? Yup, that’s exactly what it was!

(My worst one was four with a five iron, and that hurt, and I know where you live LJ... grandfather eh...happy, hmmm)!

Still, after all this, if you tell kids today what went on then; they won’t believe you!



Blue Eyes said...

Does anyone now remember Malcolm McDowell in ‘If’?

Great film! Good actor, shame he seemed to disappear after a couple of classics.

I went to a smart school but there was nothing like that. Perhaps because it was mainly a day school, perhaps because times move on, perhaps there never was that kind of "ethos" at the place. Who knows?

What I can tell you is that even though there was no physical punishment there was definitely discipline. 95% of boys kept in line anyway, the teachers had authority. The 4% who dicked about were just about kept in line and under a certain level of control and the 1% who were nasty found themselves being suggested towards other schools.

It might be that at schools where the parents are so interested in their progeny's progress a sterner kind of discipline is still needed, but I don't think we should condone physical humiliation.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

I went to a Catholic boarding school. It was supposed to set me on the path to the priesthood. Ha!

We had the same kind of punishments that you write about.

By the age of 15, I'd had enough of being caned, and I beat the shit - quite literally, it would appear - out of the head prefect.

I was expelled, needless to say, but 40 years on, and I remember the events as though they took place yesterday.

In Brown's Britain, can I claim compo retrospectively, I wonder?

Scrobs... said...

Blues, that is interesting, and as I have to say, I'm probably a few years older than your goodself, there was an awful lot to do that happened to banish the old times, and look forward...

The corporal bit was just accepted - yes, feared, but assumed. We had a maths master who would regularly whack one or two (with a brown dap) for even getting an equation wrong...

He was by no means an unpleasant man, in fact, we all quite liked him, but he did things his own way.

He was also a brilliant musician, and was revered nationally for his organ (sic), playing...

I let him down by leaving the choir, long after he was able to do the dap whack thing!

So there you have it!

I probably learned something for that, but you and I would need a few pints to establish where and what, and if and when...!

You have described some pace we dreamed about.

Scrobs... said...

Blues - try "'PLACE' we dreamed about"and the effect will be different...

Scrobs... said...

Killers, that sounds worse than what we had.

I'd heard that several Catholic Public boarding schools were difficult, but just at this moment, I believe you had it harder that we did.

Fot the record, Mrs S suffered under the Nun's regime at a covent, and she's C of E, or was until we all decided to play by our own rules and stuff them all...

Prefects at boarding school were easy meat when you had the chance to beat them to pulp. I did it at prep school, and got a satisfying respect, but later on at public school, it was not so easy.

I do recall however - vividly, when the prefect in charge of our junior dorm was described and found out as a bully (he was), there was a summary beating by all the other prefects, and a few others as well.

In front of all us kids.

One Sunday morning around 7.30am.

It was a strangly eye-opening experience, and the poor guy paraded his bruised body in front of us all afterwards, and also, he was close to tears most of the time (he was only seventeen ferGodsake).

I understand your comment "I was expelled, needless to say, but 40 years on, and I remember the events as though they took place yesterday."

But let's face it, you and me, well, we;re still here. so we are the winners eh?

I definitely think so.

Thud said...

I was taught by De La Salle brothers and they handed out severe beatings on a regular basis...all of which I richly deserved and helped to keep a rather wayward younger me on the straight and narrow.

The Lakelander said...

Standard punishment in my old school was an hour of running around the playground in cadet force fatigues and commando boots, with a Lee Enfield or FN rifle held up above your head.

Mind you, you felt damned fit afterwards!

El-Kevo said...

Now the kids deliver the beatings to the teachers ?

And what are prefects ?

I saw a mature woman on the tube wearing a badge 'Head Girl' a couple of months ago. I'm not sure what this meant.

Scrobs... said...

Thudders, I still reckon that it hurt just a bit too much for discipline's requirements.

For the record, my old head of school jumped from a five storey building a few years ago. My main tormentor is - as described by his past employee, mostly mad and a recluse now, (He headed up a national newspaper).

An older school colleague shot himself in the woods.

Scrobs... said...

Lakes, you have brightened my day doing your post here!

Of course we were fitter from all that - and, as you quite rightly say, it was a 'pride moment', scrabbling around in full CCF kit, because, it was expendable, and it was expected that it would become dirty!

Those 303s were bloody heavy, but I would give a pound for every breath it took to fire a blank at 'Joe Stef'... (In house joke ...say no more...)!

Scrobs... said...

Elecs, 'Head Girl' has nothing to do with what you read these days.

Mrs S's Mum lives in a group of homes for the daft and elderly. There is a couple living opposite who are 'in charge' and they are absolutely lovely people!

She is 'Head Girl', and her husband runs the local society walks etc, and they are great friends of all of us!

As for prefects, well, it would take only a few weeks after leaving school to exact a few reimbursements, possibly by the actions that you are well qualified to administer - except that I may use a blunt instrument as well...

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Sounds dreadful! Are you sure you weren't in a school run by Catholic priests? They should dig up the school quadrangle, just in case...

Scrobs... said...

Merms, they did dig it up - sadly!

Tradition demanded that you walked round and round (anti-clockwise) in the final moments before going into chapel!

Philipa said...

It wasn't the Leys then? I heard public schools described as kenneling for the offspring of the rich.

Philipa said...

"But let's face it, you and me, well, we;re still here. so we are the winners eh?

I definitely think so.


Why are you a winner for someone beating you but not actually killing you? IMHO you 'won' when you decided enough was enough and gave a bit back. But people who hit back can go on to be bullies themselves, that's the danger. With a small boy to raise it's not enough to try to teach him when to stand up for himself and when to stop but also not to be bullied by a bigger boy then take it out on a smaller child. Like Newtons cradle. It's usually his little sister.

Scrobs... said...

"But people who hit back can go on to be bullies themselves, that's the danger."

Not true here Pips!

If one's been bullied, there's a fair chance he or she won't bully others.

'Winners' means you get over it in this case.

Philipa said...

It seems to be true here, Scrobs. Any time big brother gets told off or has a bad day his little sister gets it in the neck.

lilith said...

"Few things are more distressing to a well regulated mind than to see a boy, who ought to know better, disporting himself at improper moments."

Standard "lines" at the Leys School, Cambridge. 20 before breakfast, Scrobbers!.

Scrobs... said...

"Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way
With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school;
A man severe he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The days disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd:
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declar'd how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too:
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And e'en the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For e'en though vanquish'd he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;
And still they gaze'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph'd is forgot."

I used to write this about three times for 30 Lils!

Scrobs... said...

I think tht's pretty well par for the course Pips, most siblings seem to do that.

What I meant was that if you've been on the receiving end, then it's possible you'd respect those you might bully.

Philipa said...

Oh I see, Scrobs, thanks.

Excellent, Lils!

Calfy said...

Well I am not all that impressed I have to say. Whilst you were a-walking JRT I was given drill for sitting on the wrong bench at break and once was awarded six "dots" whilst asleep. This was in the 21st century.
The new headmaster decided that this system of punishment was unfair and "drill"- which meant wasting your break walking around the "drill path", all weathers, no looking up- was replaced by "standards", which could only be given by masters and not by prefects.
Due to which dubious improvement I can now recite in full:
"If you can keep your head whilst all about you...."
One standard was the entire poem (32 lines) in best handwriting, but it was not uncommon for a "double standard" to be given out for such crimes as talking in class or forgetting your ruler, or for entire rooms to be given a standard if any noise was heard during prep time. Floreat S. R!
The public school I went on to was much more relaxed with various charts, some of which included early rising and break-time runs.