Summer Term at Bexhill School, the late 1950s, a time when corporal punishment was still the preferred way of keeping young ladies in order, especially those who felt like sneaking across to the local store to stock up on cigarettes or, (Shock! Horror!) alcohol. But can the suppliers of such forbidden delights be considered entirely innocent themselves?
Fooling about, the speciality of those high-spirited troublemakers Sally and Linda, is not a good idea when important prospective parents, and their daughter Veronica, are being shown round the school. And what an impression Matron makes on Veronica when they unexpectedly meet!
Another parent has generously donated a swimming pool, but if the pool's regulations are ignored, swimsuits do not offer much protection when order is restored.
Miss Holloway, the school's normally efficient secretary, seems to be losing her touch. The Headmaster wonders whether a touch or two of the same treatment the girls get under similar circumstances might restore her to her previous efficiency. The important thing is not to get carried away, because the consequences could be calamitous.
Miss Holloway is, of course, the only honorary member of the Bexhill Spanking Society. But the BSS is moving into both the garden shed and uncharted territory, with disastrous results.
Finally, it's time for the summer holidays and for Debbie and Catharine the pungent aroma of the Italian coast and a particularly glossy waiter. These lead inexorably to another, equally pungent fragrance: that of linseed oil softening up a long-unused and particularly vicious 'Society' cane.
Once again, bottoms young and older find themselves uncomfortably in the line of fire of wood, rattan, and leather.
Once in a �Blue Moon�
The �Blue Moon� was a general store and newsagent located just across the street from the school playgrounds. It was strictly out of bounds, not least because of the danger presented by the main road, although the traffic on it was generally light. At the opening Assembly of the Summer Term, the Headmaster felt it useful to mention yet again that any girl caught visiting the �Blue Moon� could expect to be in severe trouble. This was as near as he got to delivering any strictures on discipline � as always he preferred to be upbeat and leave the darker side of school life to the Deputy Head, Mrs Winchester, who loathed him for it.
Although out of bounds, the �Blue Moon� presented a pole of attraction for many of the students. Nestling on shelves within the dim and cluttered interior were delights such as gum drops, chocolate, gob-stoppers, and all manner of violently-coloured candy. For the more adventurous, there were cigarettes, and for the truly depraved, alcohol (the �Blue Moon� was also an off-licence). It was not surprising, therefore, that most terms saw forays by those prepared to risk a well-caned bottom for access to the Aladdin�s Cave that sat in full and tempting view.
The Headmaster had from time to time spoken to Mrs Grimshaw, the proprietor, and urged her to report any young visitors from the school. Mrs Grimshaw always undertook to telephone the Headmaster immediately in the unthinkable case that she found one of his students in her shop. In reality, whether or not she did so had more to do with her mood on a particular day, and on how well business in general was going. These, of course, were two unknowns which the girls of Bexhill could not factor in to their risk analysis when they were considering the hazards of a visit. What they could take into account was whether Mrs Grimshaw was behind the counter, or whether it was her teenage daughter Shirley, who had just left school. Shirley, being closer to the Bexhill girls� ages, was much more sympathetic and would never denounce a good customer. Those in search of tobacco or booze did well to ensure that Shirley was on duty when they scurried across the road to make their purchase.
Virginia was the rather appropriate name for one of the school�s inveterate smokers. She had picked up the habit early from her parents, both of whom were heavily addicted but who were equally keen that their daughter should not follow them down the same path. Rather unfairly, since they offered such a poor example themselves, they regularly belted Virginia when she was caught smoking or even when her breath smelled of tobacco. The strap didn�t seem to be an effective deterrent and Virginia was well on the way to being as hooked as her Mum and Dad. This lead to a problem when she was at school, because the in-house Tuck Shop didn�t sell Players (or any other brand) and there was a limit to how many packets you could smuggle into the school at the start of term. For Virginia, the �Blue Moon�, and the dependable Shirley, were life-lines.
Three weeks after the start of term Virginia regarded her last, half-empty pack of Navy Cut with dismay. They wouldn�t last the week. A visit to the �Blue Moon� would have to be scheduled. She began to observe the store to try to determine whether there was a pattern to Shirley being in charge. On Wednesday afternoon, sports afternoon at the school, Virginia was ostensibly taking a break from athletics practice to do some leg stretching against the boundary wall opposite the �Blue Moon�. Athletics, of course, was not Virginia�s strongest sport; in fact she didn�t have a strong sport: any exercise was alien to her lungs. If there had been a �50 yard wheeze� in the programme, she might have been awarded her school colours.
From the boundary wall she had an excellent view of the store. Moving dimly behind the counter, she could see the figure of Shirley. Should she risk a quick dash now? It would mean somehow getting back unseen into the school to collect her money, and then risking the hazardous return run to the shop. While she was weighing the risks, Chloe joined her, bouncing a ball.
�Would you like to shoot some baskets with me?� Chloe asked.
�Oh, no thanks. I�m doing a work out.� Then Virginia paused: an idea struck her. �Just a minute, Chloe. Maybe you could help me with something?�
�Of course. What can I do?�
�Come here next to me and do some stretching and I�ll explain.�
Chloe joined her and put her leg up on top of the low wall, bending forward to touch her toes.
�Chloe, I�m almost out of cigarettes and I want to go over to the �Blue Moon� to get some more.�
�You should give up smoking, it�s really bad for you,� Chloe grinned at Virginia.
�Shut up! When I want lectures from you I�ll ask for them,� Virginia smiled back, �now, Shirley�s behind the counter, so this is an ideal moment. I have to nip back into the school to get some money, and then I could go over the wall from here. That�s where you come in.� She looked at Chloe to see whether the girl was on board so far.
�OK, but what do you want me to do?�
�When I get back with the money, I want us to play around with your ball near the wall. When I think no-one�s looking, I�ll �accidentally� knock it over the wall and so I�ll have to climb over to get it. Your job will be to make sure no-one comes near while I run to the shop and back.�
�No problem, but could I ask you a favour in exchange?�
�Sure, Chloe, what?�
�It�s my birthday next week. I�d planned on visiting the �Blue Moon�, too, to get a bottle of wine and some crisps so we could have a midnight feast to celebrate. If I get my money too, can I come with you?�
�It�ll be too risky. First, we�d both have to get back to the school to find our money, then if we both go over the wall, there�s much more chance we�d be caught. I�ll use my cash to buy the wine for you and you can pay me back later. What kind do you want?�
�Oh, anything not too expensive. Are you sure that�s OK?�
�No problem. Now, just hang around here while I sneak back into school.�
Virginia decided that a confident approach was required, so she strode purposefully back to the main building. No-one challenged her. A few minutes later she reappeared, the money stuffed into her shorts� pocket. She and Chloe began practising dribbling, passing, and intercepting the ball. After a few minutes, Virginia fisted the ball over the wall and into the belt of trees that lined the main road. She glanced quickly around, but no-one seemed to have taken any notice. She scrambled over the wall and crouched down behind it. Chloe peered over the top and appeared to be giving her friend directions. �All clear!� she whispered. Virginia moved to the edge of the trees. She could still see Shirley in the shop and there was no-one on the pavements. She took a deep breath and scuttled across the road and into the store.
Shirley looked up as the furtive figure appeared through the door. �Oh, hello Virginia. Navy Cut, is it?� Virginia had been a regular customer for several terms.
�Please, and a bottle of wine.�
�We�ve got a selection. Do you want red or white?�
�I don�t know, it�s for a friend of mine. She wants it for a secret dormitory celebration.�
�Probably best to go for a red. White wine isn�t nice unless it�s chilled and I don�t suppose you can ask the cooks to keep it in their �fridge!�
�OK, red will be fine. She doesn�t want anything too expensive.�
�How about this Spanish Rioja � it�s only five shillings.�
�Fine. Quick, let me know how much I owe so I can get back before I�m missed. You�d better put the bottle in a bag.�
Shirley put the wine into a brown paper bag. Virginia paid, pocketed the cigarettes, and scanned the road. All still clear. �Thanks, Shirley. See you soon�, and she was off, across the road and into the trees. Chloe was waiting by the wall.
�Stay down a minute,� Chloe whispered, �some Juniors are just coming past.�
Virginia crouched with her back against the wall. She could hear the young girls chatting away. They seemed to take ages to pass.
�All clear,� whispered Chloe, �and don�t forget the ball.�
�Oh damn!� said Virginia, �I�d forgotten about it. Where is it?�
�Over there,� Chloe pointed.
�Got it. What shall I do with the bottle?�
�You�d better leave it beside the wall. I�ll get my sports bag later and I can hide it in that. Many thanks. Come on, let me give you a hand.�
Virginia left the bag with the wine at the foot of the wall and scrambled over, rolling the ball on to the grass. No-one seemed to have noticed the incident.
�Whew!� said Virginia, relieved to have got the escapade over with. She and Chloe continued to play the ball between them for a few minutes. They failed to notice �Faster� Fraser, the Games mistress, approaching them. �Faster� hailed the girls heartily.
�Hi! Shall we practice a few baskets?� It was a question to which they couldn�t say no. �Faster� led them to the practice net which was attached to the side of the pavilion. She took the ball and jumping nimbly slammed it into the basket.
�OK, Chloe, now you.� Chloe leaped and pitched the ball so that it reverberated a couple of times before setting between the steel ring supporting the net and dropping to the ground.
�Very good. Virginia, your go.� She lobbed the ball to Virginia, who ran to the net and jumped rather clumsily before throwing the ball wide of the basket. It bounced off the back-board. �Faster� caught it.
�Use two hands, Virginia, like this. And leap � the higher you get, the easier it is to place the ball. Watch.� �Faster� seemed to rise effortlessly and smashed the ball into the net. She passed it to Virginia.
�Try again. Really jump for it this time.�
Virginia detested exercise in all its forms, but once in the clutches of Miss Fraser one had little choice but to show enthusiasm. Holding the ball in both hands, she leaped as high as she could towards the net and chucked the ball vaguely in the right direction. The ball again bounced off the back-board and landed on the ground right beside the packet of Navy Cut which had just fallen from her pocket.
�What are those?� said �Faster�, her voice chilly. �Virginia, did you have a packet of cigarettes in your pocket?�
Virginia just looked at the incriminating evidence with a horrified expression on her face.
Miss Fraser picked up the cigarettes and examined them.
�They�re unopened,� she said, realisation gradually dawning on her. �Virginia, have you just been over to the �Blue Moon� and bought these?�
Since no reasonable alibi seemed to present itself, Virginia just nodded.
�And you, Chloe, what have you got in your pockets?�
�Nothing. Just a handkerchief, Miss Fraser,� she said, turning out her pockets to display her innocence.
�Did you know that Virginia had been in the �Blue Moon�?�
�No, Miss Fraser. We�ve been practising for a few minutes. She�s been here all that time,� Chloe lied fluently.
�Right, well you, Chloe, can go on practising your shots. Virginia, come with me.�
�Faster� led the now miserable-looking Virginia back to the school. Neither the Headmaster nor the Deputy Head were in, so the Games mistress handed the cigarettes to the school secretary, explaining what had happened.
�Please give them to the Headmaster when he returns, and tell him what I�ve just told you. Virginia, I have no doubt that you�ll be hearing more about this, but in the meantime, go back out and join Chloe in her practice.�
�Damn!� said Virginia, when she rejoined Chloe, �I�m really for it now! Why did that stupid woman have to show up?�
�What did the Headmaster say?�
�He wasn�t in, nor was Mrs Winchester. �Faster� gave the cigarettes to Miss Holloway and told her to tell �Three Taps� when he gets back. Then the shit will hit the fan!�
�I�m sorry I couldn�t do anything more to help you. My heart sank when you jumped and the packet fell out of your pocket, but there was no way I could get to it before �Faster� saw it.
�Damn, damn, damn!� said Virginia furious at herself for having brought on the double-whammy: the loss of the cigarettes, and the certainty of a sore bottom to come. �Come on: let�s take it out on this bloody net!�
I have read quite a few of these stories now. They are entertaining and the chapters in many cases are little stories by them selves. The girls are always plotting new mischief and then paying the consequences. .
This is a good series for all who like a story where the cane is used for almost all infractions and other implements are used once in awhile as well. Good job.
Another good continuation to this seriess as you see teh girls new and old who never seem to learn to stay out of trouble for long and one an all have to face the consequenses.