Wed Apr XXVIII
Isn’t life dull! Today 0 happened.
As nothing happened on this day, I am going to write about something which doesn’t appear in the diary – the only time that I saw another pupil caned.
Corporal punishment was still very much in use at Mount Albert Grammar School (and presumably throughout New Zealand) and the threat of the cane was a very real one. The use of it was, I think, sparing and the threat was mostly enough to keep us under control. Every now and then, though, it would be brought out. It was kept in the office of the deputy headmaster, Mr Wilson, and by and large that was where it stayed.
It was my German teacher, Mr Gibbs – who I have already marked as one of the more erraticly tempered teachers I ever had to contend with – who administered the caning. He tired of us being unusually rowdy and sent someone to fetch the cane from Mr Wilson, whose office happened to be next door. He then threatened to cane the next boy who spoke out of turn.
I have never been sure whether Andrew Bunter didn’t take him seriously, or was simply a bit reckless, but within minutes he found himself bent over in front of the class and receiving two strokes to his backside. In fact, it may even have been bravado, as he returned to his desk with a broad smirk on his face and was pretty keen to show off the welts at cricket practice that evening.
Thinking back, I am a bit surprised that I only saw this happen the once. Two other boys in my form group (I think I recall who they were but I can’t be 100% sure and don’t want to defame anyone by naming them) were caned by our form teacher, Mr Beachey, for fighting before a science lesson, but as the science lab was a way from Mr Wilson’s office he took the boys down there for their punishment rather than sending for the cane. And in a real throwback to another era the entire Business Studies option group – which I was not a member of – were given a choice of a week of lunchtime detentions or being caned after some collective misdemeanour or another. Not many took the latter option, although I recall that Rhys Griffiths did.
The important thing, though, is that I avoided any form of corporal punishment throughout my school career – which was almost certainly more by luck than judgment!