Warning! Any resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead
is entirely coincidental.
Tales From The Whip And Collar - An Introductory Story.
Before you get any wrong ideas I ought to mention that the Whip And Collar is a pub - a comfortable little place just to the West of London where suburbia tails off into the countryside. We had become accustomed to meet there on a Friday night to talk, drink and generally unwind before the weekend and although over the years careers and mobility had taken their toll of our regulars, new faces were introduced and old faces still looked in when they were passing. All in all you could rely on some lively chat over the pints most weeks.
I suppose what distinguished us from any other gossiping group was our custom of looking to entertain each other with unusual tales. True tales? Of course. Just like all yarns spun over a pint of beer.
That evening there were, I suppose, about half a dozen of us gathered around the table in the corner alcove rambling on about nothing in particular when I observed that Tom was looking more morose than usual, staring gloomily into his beer. Such introspection is invariably fatal in the convivial atmosphere of a pub early on a Friday evening, so we hovered around him like vultures murmuring aimless expressions sympathy hoping to elicit the gory details concerning his present troubles. He drained his glass and held it out expectantly. With the minimum of fuss it was passed back into the hands of the unfortunate nearest the bar and we settled down with our beer and suitably sympathetic expressions.
When a full glass had reappeared in Tom's hands he began "I'm going to tell you a story." There was heavy emphasis on the final word.
"It concerns an acquaintance of mine - let's call him Bill. It seems that he received a telephone call at work one day about a problem at his son's school. The message said that they had been trying to contact his wife but there had been no reply from his house. Could he therefore ring a Miss Grant on her mobile phone as soon as possible.
Well, Bill tried to get hold of his wife but, like the school, was unable to get any reply from his house either, so eventually he was obliged to ring the teacher back as requested. The lady explained that she had tried to speak to Bill's wife when she collected the children but had missed her in the throng of parents. It was most important that she spoke to Bill today and could he call in at the school on his way back from the office?
To be frank, Bill was not at all keen on cutting short his working day, but fortunately Miss Grant explained that she too would be working late and that if he could call by the school between 7 and 7.30 she would still be there. Bill tried repeatedly to get hold of his wife but had still failed to make contact with her before it was time for him to leave to catch his train.
All the way back Bill pondered on what could be so urgent that the school needed to see him immediately. He took it as a good sign that he was meeting the teacher on the school premises. At least the little buggers hadn't burned the place down. Nonetheless, he was more than a little unsettled as school held no fond memories for him and he had always hitherto declined to set foot in the place. Actually, schools made him nervous: he could never shake off the feeling that he should address the teachers as ma'am and not speak until he was spoken to.
Dusk was falling as Bill arrived at the school just after 7. The place seemed to be pretty deserted but there was a light on in one of the classrooms facing the front playground. He walked over and saw that there was a young woman in her late twenties sitting at the desk at the front of the class.
He poked his head around the classroom door and ascertained that she was indeed Miss Grant waiting for him. Unfortunately the moment she opened her mouth his worst fears were realised.
"I have to speak to you about the perfectly disgusting behaviour of your son. Although I originally tried to get hold of your wife I think, on reflection, it is better that I speak to you direct as I feel that you are probably responsible for this appalling state of affairs."
As Bill stood in front of her desk being lectured at in that hectoring tone of voice he felt all his adult articulation start melting away. He made some vague noises of the "Uh, I, um, er," variety and stared at her dumbly.
She stared at him coldly. "I don't think you realise the gravity of the position you are in. This isn't just something we can brush over in this classroom, you know."
He stared at her. The crisp white blouse; the dark skirt and sensible shoes; the long, blonde hair coiled up in a neat bun. He was eight years old again being lectured by Mrs Harrison about pulling Emily's pigtails.
"I'm um, er sorry..what...er problem um.." Bill mumbled, his voice tailing off. Quite what he was supposed to be sorry for he hadn't worked out yet but it obviously seemed to be his fault, whatever it was.
Miss Grant stood up. Bill was not in the least surprised to find that she was taller than him. In fact, he would have been rather disconcerted if she hadn't been. Miss Grant stared down at him and he felt himself shrink a little further. "Well?" She queried, as if there was certainly nothing further to be said on her part.
Bill mumbled some further apologies. He was thoroughly confused and disorientated but he waited passively for developments. He was sure that matters would become clearer and took refuge in the traditional schoolboy standby of dumb silence.
"I suppose," Miss Grant said reflectively "I suppose we might be able to sort this out between us now, but I don't see how I can expect any improvement in your son's behaviour when it quite clearly derives from deficiencies in the standards I would expect from his father."
Bill ummed and aahhed and erred for all he was worth. Finally he stuttered something to the effect that if there to was any way in which he could help to rectify matters he would, of course, be happy to go along with anything she had in mind. She stared at him again and Bill grew redder and more hot under the collar than ever.
"Not so very long ago this sort of behaviour would have merited a very severe chastisement indeed but the days of such things being imposed in school are long behind us. In any event, it seems to me that your son is not the one who needs a damn good hiding."
Bill squirmed uncomfortably. He didn't like the turn that this conversation was taking but he felt strangely powerless to halt proceedings.
She was still looking at him with an expression of extreme distaste on her face. "I can take it, I suppose, that your silence indicates assent?"
Bill remained completely tongue-tied. He couldn't even come up with any coherent comment as she grasped him by the back of the neck and bent him over the desk at the front of the room.
"Stretch out and hold the edge of the desk, you naughty boy" she snapped. "No, like THAT!"
She pulled his hands sharply into a stretched out position and picked up a wooden ruler that was lying on the desktop. "Now KEEP them THERE and DON'T you DARE move THEM. Is that CLEAR?"
The ruler added a sharp emphasis to her words via each knuckle alternately. Bill yelped and squealed but maintained his grip on the desktop.
"That's better" said Miss Grant crisply, "now we can get down to business."
She came round behind him and started to fiddle with the buckle of his belt. Bill protested feebly "no, please don't.....". He got no further before she snatched up the ruler and smacked him again.
"No, Miss. Please don't take down my trousers, Miss."
Miss Grant continued undeterred. Down came the trousers. Down came the underpants. And down stayed Bill, sprawled across the desk with aching knuckles and a bare behind.
He felt her hand rest momentarily on his backside followed by a resounding smack that jerked the desk forward slightly with its vigour and set poor Bill howling at the sting.
"Don't be such a baby" snapped Miss Grant. "It's no more than you deserve," backing up her admonition with another almighty smack to his other buttock.
Bill wriggled and whined but to no avail. She proceeded to deliver another half a dozen stingers on his writhing form, leaving his rear end cherry red with clearly etched handprints imprinted on each side.
Miss Grant bent over him, so close that he could feel her breath on his neck and the tickle of a loose strand of hair brushing him. She whispered softly, almost sensuously in his ear " Now, my very, very naughty boy, you stay right there while I go and get my cane."
"No, Miss: please, Miss, don't cane me" Bill mumbled, but to an empty room as Miss Grant had stepped briskly out.
"No, Miss: no, no, please" he was still murmuring to himself as the door flew open and a mob of people burst in, with his wife in the front of the crowd.......
At that point there was about fifty parts stunned silence and two parts horrified screeches, the latter, as you might suppose, coming from Bill and his wife."
Back in the pub there was a pretty stunned silence in our corner as well as we waited upon Tom's explanation of these curious events.
"It seems," continued Tom "that Bill's wife had hired the school hall for a surprise 40th birthday party for him. Some of his friends had wanted to hire a novelty greeting girl for him but Bill's wife had vetoed the usual ones - you know, nun-o-grams, stripping policewomen and so on as being in bad taste. She was, however, persuaded that a teacher-o-gram would be pretty harmless..............."
We exchanged glances around the table. Yes, one would have thought that would be pretty innocuous we agreed.
"It does depend, though" continued Tom sadly "on what sort of a magazine you get the telephone number from."
There was a collected sigh of comprehension around the table as Tom drained his pint and hauled himself to his feet. "I'd better be going" he muttered ".....things to do...... promised to be in early....."
He eased himself from behind the table, inflicting some further damage on the already bedraggled bunch of flowers he'd hauled from beneath his chair and started to weave his way through the crowds towards the door. Jimmy leapt out of his chair and hurried after him, murmuring something about something he'd forgotten to ask Tom. The catcalls of "telephone number, telephone number" followed him as he went.
"Well," we said, looking at each other "well, indeed." And we indulged in a good 5 or 10 seconds of deep contemplative thought before turning to the serious business of whose round it was.
Hemmed in securely in the deepest recess of the alcove I felt safe from being appointed to fight my way to the bar so I ramped up the cry for more beer and directed its flow towards Henry. "And," I pointed out maliciously, "it looks like Bob's new barmaid is free to serve you."
I was rewarded with a wince of pure pain from Henry who nonetheless hauled himself to his feet and gathered in the order. There's a story there I'm sure and we'll get it out of him sooner or later. In the meantime, however, as Henry eased his way to the bar Derek drew our attention with the short but arresting question "Do you all remember Felicity?"
A collective sigh of appreciation went round the table. Felicity was the blonde predecessor to the barmaid that Henry was now approaching with such trepidation and we remembered her fondly.
"Did I ever tell you how she came to be replaced?" Derek continued. "No? Well as soon as Henry arrives back with the refreshments I'll tell you."
And so he did. But that's another tale.
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