"I stretch my hand out, palm up, and he thwacks it three times with the leather."

Corporal punishment was practised in British schools until it was abolished in 1987 for state schools, but not until the turn of the twenty-first century for private schools. Punishment was usually either in the form of caning across the hand or buttocks or by the strap (called a 'tawse' in Scotland) across one or both hands. The leather strap (known as 'the belt') was the everyday punishment tool in North East schools, with the cane being reserved for more serious offences, often administered in the headmaster's study. Punishment by strap was usually done in front of the class in a deliberate act of humiliation for the offender and as a deterrent to the rest of the class. Children receiving the strap were usually instructed to hold out one hand, palm up and supported by the other hand, making it more difficult to move the hand away as the belt came down and ensuring that the full force of each stroke was taken by the hand being strapped. Strapping was common even for minor offences, such as talking or getting sums wrong. The author can remember, on his last day at junior school, getting 'six of the best' for using his school pen as a dart to hit the Famous Scientists chart on the class notice board.

Corporal punishment was the stuff of British comedy at the time. It was often mentioned in the BBC radio show The Clitheroe Kid about a schoolboy Jimmy Clitheroe (actually played by an adult midget of the same name), on television with 'Professor' Jimmy Edwards playing the scheming, drunken, cane-swishing headmaster of Chiselbury School ('For the Sons of Gentlefolk') in Whacko! and a series of films about the unruly Girls of St Trinian's.

Here's the introduction to Whacko! with a typical opening scene featuring Jimmy Edwards.