A thin layer of snow covered the playground when I arrived at school that morning. Throughout the rest of the morning more flurries made it just deep enough to leave a footprint and the whole class was eager to escape lessons for the lunch time break.
Finally the bell sounded and we all stood as one to be dismissed by Miss Clifford. The rush to exit the door was tempered by the fear of being called back by Miss for being too noisy or too rushed or too anything really. I had had my hand slapped by her ruler on more than one occasion in the past and so kept myself at a steady pace until exiting the door.
Outside the stampede to the playground meant many a smaller child was simply pushed aside, or over. On reaching the playground I found a snowball fight had already begun with two discernible sides formed at each end. Joining one I quickly gathered snow and began throwing snowballs at any target still enough to hit.
The trouble was the tarmac surface was quite old and so loose stones were very prolific. Being only 9 years old and keen to make friends in this new school I gave it no thought at all until...
' Stop this at once ', bellowed from the direction of the main doorway.
There stood the headmaster, Mr Harris, with an expression that stopped everyone in their tracks.
' There will be no snowballs thrown in this playground ', he said as he walked to the middle.
' You are picking up stones in amongst the snowballs and someone could easily be blinded if hit in the face by one , do I make myself clear ?' he glowered at us.
Disappearing back into the school doorway everyone mooched about looking for some other form of entertainment when a single snowball flew through the air. It was like a starting gun for everyone to resume the contest and within minutes the battle began again.
' Right!' ' Everybody inside now and line up outside my office.' a very red faced Mr Harris shouted.
A certain amount of place changing ensued as the line grew to the full length of the corridor. I chose to be in the middle as I was still not aware of what was about to happen. In front of me was a girl I had seen before so I asked her what we could expect. She ignored me. Drawing my own conclusion that as there were several girls in the queue we would only be given a telling off.
I hadn't paid much attention to the kids leaving his office until with three to go before me I saw a boy leaving with tears streaming down his cheeks.
The penny dropped.
Stomach tightened and yet still I couldn't believe the girl in front would get the same treatment.
I stood facing the door to his office and jumped slightly when it suddenly opened and the girl rushed out with head in hands. Slight sobs disappeared out the main door with her. I walked in and closed the door behind me.
In front of me was a chair, the back of which faced me. Headmaster stood to the left side with a large black plimsoll in his hand.
' Bend over the chair boy,' he said in a matter of fact way.
To this day I can remember the sting of that plimsoll as it impacted my small bottom. Four strokes, two on each cheek made it burn and throb within seconds.
' Now get out, next !' he yelled and I exited not looking at anything but the floor in front of me.
Outside in the cool air I frantically looked for a snow pile against the wall of the building in which to sit in.
All I could think of as I sat there was the look of disdain on the face of Miss Clifford when I got back to my class. I well remember the shame I felt as I entered her doorway and yet she merely pointed to my desk at which I dutifully sat. Bottom still throbbing.
My first spanking at school but as you will see later, not my last.