by Jolyon Lewes
(CC Image in the public domain via WikiMedia)
Shortly after my thirteenth birthday, the joy and laughter in my life abruptly ceased. I was wrenched from my happy family home in Germany and sent to a boarding school in Southern England. Up till then I'd gone wherever in the world my father was working and had attended the local British schools. I was used to travelling, adapting to new environments and making new friends but my parents wanted me to have a stable education and boarding seemed the only option. So I faced the prospect not just of living away from home for the first time but to do so in a different country. To add to my gloom, I'd heard that a major feature of boarding school life was caning. I'd never even seen a cane; all I'd received was a few slaps to my legs when I was very young.
In April 1959, full of foreboding, I arrived at my new school. It was in a small market town on chalky hills rolling down to the English Channel. I'd never before been in an all boys environment, nor had I mixed with boys who'd rarely travelled beyond their own county. My worldly knowledge was of no interest to them and I was confused by their rural dialect. I was utterly, desperately homesick for the first few months, the situation easing only slightly during the rest of my time at that dreadful establishment. There were strange rules to get used to, routines in the boarding house to be followed, irksome chores to be performed. That nobody ever called me by my first name was difficult to cope with. At this school boys addressed each other only by surname or nickname. I hated the total lack of privacy. In short I felt very, very miserable.
Another unpleasant aspect of life in the new school was the school uniform. Having for the last two years worn a white shirt, long trousers and school blazer, I now had to wear a grey woollen shirt and a grey flannel suit, with short trousers. Since the age of eleven I'd developed a strong dislike for wearing shorts. These ones weren't very short, coming to just above the knee, but I hated them on principle. Now, in contrast to lightweight, Terylene trousers that were comfortable to wear and smart in appearance, I was obliged to wear clumsy-looking shorts of a thick, prickly material that itched constantly. The knee-length woollen socks scratched the parts of my legs not being scratched by my short trousers. It was a thoroughly unpleasant combination.
Even in hot weather, we weren't allowed to take off jacket or tie. After lessons, we'd return to the boarding house, where tea and supper were taken. At a specified time, boys changed into pyjamas for bed. Even at weekends, school uniform was to be worn all day so it was the only clothing you ever wore, except when dressed for sports. I felt imprisoned in the heavy, itchy uniform and dreaded having to wear it all through the summer term with no chance to wear the relaxed, casual clothes I'd always worn at home.
The lack of privacy peaked on bath-nights. Boys would take a twice-weekly hot bath, in accordance with a roster drawn up by an old bat called Matron who always supervised bath-nights. There were four cast-iron baths close together. At ten-minute intervals boys would present themselves naked but for a towel round their waist, wait until Matron had run the baths with precisely four inches of hot water, and then perform their ablutions under her watchful eye. After five minutes they'd be ordered out of the baths and allowed to dry themselves. Matron would then inspect toenails, fingernails and necks, checking for cleanliness. The boys would then run upstairs to their dormitories to put on their pyjamas. This humiliating process was made worse by senior boys, who'd ambush the bathers as they ran upstairs, flicking the wet little towels off and whipping them at the now-naked boys. I never got used to this bath-time ritual and even now, would rather go dirty than have to share a bathroom with anyone else.
One thing I noticed on bath-nights was that some boys had red cane-marks on their bottoms. These marks were so prominent you couldn't miss them. I said nothing but began to glance at the bottoms of my dorm-mates, looking for the tell-tale weals, which I noticed took quite a few days to fade. There was one boy, Royston, who seemed to sport a permanent collection of weals. Hardly had one set begun to fade before a new batch appeared and often, as if he'd run out of space on his bottom, weals would appear on the upper parts of his thighs.
The housemaster was permitted to cane boys for even minor misdemeanours and Royston was hopelessly disorganised and forever getting into trouble. He was a sorrowful-looking boy with spectacles, a mop of untidy hair and, it seemed, no friends. His grey short trousers were miles shorter than anyone else's - not even long enough to hide the weals on his poor thighs. I felt very sorry for him and would like to have got to know him but feared that his unfortunate disposition might be contagious. I'd never been caned and knew few boys at any of my previous schools who'd been caned. It seemed I'd come to a place where caning was all too scarily common.
I soon discovered what sort of crimes warranted a caning and eventually worked out what boys meant when they hissed 'cavey'. It was the Latin cave, meaning 'Beware!' and was used whenever there was danger. This might be the arrival of a master outside the classroom door before a lesson or, more ominously, the tell-tale creak of a floorboard outside the dormitory after lights-out. Talking after lights-out was forbidden. One night a boy was caught at it: he was summoned downstairs to the housemaster's study and returned ten minutes later, sniffing and whimpering, climbing into his narrow little bunk to cry himself to sleep. He received no comfort from the other boys in the dorm.
I was a well-behaved little boy and quickly learned what I should do to avoid a beating. The sound of a dorm-mate weeping into his pillow was not edifying, especially if he shared your double bunk, because his heaving sobs would make the frame shake and you'd be subjected to a rhythmic motion proportional - literally - to his degree of distress.
After six long and unhappy weeks we could all go home for a weekend. As my family was in Germany, it wasn't practicable to travel there but some family friends who'd moved back to England had invited me to go to them. This meant a two hour train journey to a small town in Hampshire. It would be an understatement to say I was excited about getting out of that school even for a short time. I was ecstatic at the prospect and had been ticking off the hours in my Boy Scouts Diary since first arriving at school. So it was only natural for me to chatter excitedly after lights-out on the Thursday night before the weekend. I missed the frantic whisper of 'Cave ' from the boy who slept closest to the door. The dormitory door crashed open and the housemaster yelled:
"Who was talking?"
There was a deathly silence as every boy held his breath. Schoolboy honour dictated that the perpetrator always owned up but I just lay there, frozen in fear. My heart was thumping and I began to sweat profusely.
"Who was talking?"
This time, he asked the question slowly, deliberately and with menace. I lay there, shaking, eyes tight shut. One of the boys cleared his throat. The tension was dreadful. I knew what would happen to me if I owned up to this heinous crime but I knew I had to own up. But I couldn't say anything. My mouth was so dry my voice wouldn't work. Another pause followed, which seemed to last an hour. The boy cleared his throat again. I knew that all the others were willing me to speak up.
"I will not leave until the boy has owned up."
Slowly, in terror, I dragged up the courage to say:
"Um, Sir, it was me."
Things then happened very quickly. I was out of my bed, dressing gown on, slippers on, and downstairs in the dreadful man's study. The bright lights dazzled me. He told me to take off my dressing gown and to lean over his desk. At least my pyjamas were on, not that the flannelette material would offer much protection. There followed what remains the most agonising and clearly etched couple of minutes I have ever suffered. The sadist took his cane and whipped it through the air once or twice. I was bent over, face covered, tears already starting, as he lifted the cane for the first blow. When it struck, I felt the most vicious, stinging pain imaginable. It was like an electric shock, but worse, because I knew there would be more. Gasping, I sought for breath, overwhelmed by humiliation, defeat and pain.
Down came the cane again. I yelped loudly, partly in reaction to the suddenness of the blow but also because it was even more painful than the first blow. Perhaps he'd hit me in exactly the same place. There was a pause. Had he finished? Surely I'd be getting more strokes than two? Oh yes, there were more. The third one was just as powerful as the others but must have made contact on a different part of my bottom because it was like the whole appalling process was starting from the beginning. More intakes of breath from me, more wriggling and more tears.
"Stay still!" he commanded.
The fourth stroke was the worst of all, seeming to rocket me forwards into the desk while creating a fresh sensation of excruciating pain in a new place, right at the top of my legs. I think I shrieked. I clenched my fists tight and waited for the next blow.
"That will do, Lewes. Now get to bed and never let me hear you talking after lights out again."
I put on my dressing gown and shuffled wetly out of the study, slowly to climb the stairs back to my dormitory. I was racked with pain and the tears were flowing freely as I tried desperately not to cry out or moan. As I entered the dorm there was silence from all the other boys and I staggered towards my bed feeling broken and alone. I climbed into the bunk, pulled the sheet over me and turned onto my tummy, burying my face in the thin pillow and just letting the sobs come and wash all over me. Happy thoughts of the weekend were far away and I just wanted my mother. I pictured my little bedroom at home, the comforting things around me there, the kind words of my parents and the safety of just being at home. After a bit, I turned over a little, just enough to catch the cold moonlight coming through the curtainless windows of the dormitory, illuminating in a cruel, harsh monochrome the bare wooden floor, the metal frames of the bunk beds and the sleeping forms of small boys. I had never felt so far from home.
Next morning, my bottom was still throbbing painfully and I wondered what would be the reaction of the other boys. As the bell rang at 7 am to tell us to get out of bed, I eased myself carefully out of my bunk and waited to be cold-shouldered. Instead, the biggest boy in the dorm, the natural leader, came over, shook my hand and said:
"You did all right last night, Lewes."
At this, the others clustered round and took turns to shake my hand. It seemed that I'd passed some sort of test and was now to be accepted by my dorm-mates. Although suffering badly and dreading having to sit down on the wooden bench at breakfast, I derived some comfort from this display and may even have attempted some kind of a joke as we got dressed. Sitting down was not quite as agonising as I'd feared and as I picked the skin off the disgusting porridge I began, once again, to look forward to the weekend holiday about to start. We had Chemistry practical that morning, which meant I could spend a lot of time standing and not having to sit on my aching bottom. Lessons finished at lunchtime and I walked to the railway station; I was enormously excited as I stood on the platform awaiting the train.
At 12.25 pm on a beautiful Friday in early June, I was on a green Southern Region train as it pulled slowly out of the station, the steam locomotive's whistle blowing cheerfully. They still had magnificent steam locos on regular services in 1959. Still dressed in school uniform, for I had no other clothes, I tried to forget about the night before and thought about the coming weekend. My parents' friends had a son called Roger, who was nearly fifteen. We'd known each other in Germany but not very well, although I'd very much admired him. I hoped we still had something in common but nearly two years' difference in age is a lot to boys at that stage of their lives.
It was a very hot day and I felt far too warm in my uniform. It occurred to me to take off my jacket and loosen my tie but this was forbidden at school, regardless of the weather and I thought there may be spies on board who'd report back to the housemaster. I couldn't take the risk. Instead, I copied a boy in my class and pulled up the legs of my prickly shorts until the hems sat about five inches from my knees. The boy pulled his hems much higher than that when he sat at his desk. I was surprised he never got told off for it but maybe that was because he was so nice-looking and had very attractive legs. He told me his thighs couldn't stand 'the infernal itching.' Like me, he was jealous of the handful of lucky boys whose shorts had a smooth, cotton lining but unlike me, he was a day-boy and could at least shed his uniform at the end of the school day.
Later in the journey I went to stand in the vestibule at the end of the carriage, in the breeze from the open windows in the carriage doors. My bottom didn't throb so much and the flannel chafed my thighs less cruelly. I felt a little more comfortable – until some older boys got into the carriage wearing open-necked shirts and blue shorts as breathtakingly brief as Royston's grey ones. Dressed so much more suitably than me, they were chatting merrily and looked cool and happy.
Although envious of the boys' obvious comfort, I'd have hated to wear shorts like theirs. When in sports shorts, I'd always push them down over my hips to cover more of my thighs. At home I sometimes had to wear khaki shorts that finished at mid-thigh. I didn't like them because they'd ride right up my legs whenever I sat down, making me very self-conscious of my bare thighs, especially if girls were present. In that train I'd far sooner have worn long trousers but all I had for the weekend was my horrid school uniform of itchy flannel.
As the train sped through sunlit countryside, I felt excited about being away from that horrible school for two nights but I wondered whether Roger's voice had broken and whether he'd want to be bothered with a little kid like me. At my destination, I climbed off the train with my little case and looked for my hosts. When I saw Roger coming towards me, my heart thumped and my mouth went dry. He was wearing the shortest shorts I'd seen since I was last in Germany, much shorter even than the ones worn by those boys on the train.
Most German boys wore leather shorts that they seemed to grow up in, the shorts appearing to get ever shorter as their wearer grew taller. I'd heard that boys were given new shorts at eight years or so and kept them until they were about sixteen. Roger looked like one of these boys – his legs were entirely bare, right to the top. I remembered he'd often worn leather shorts in Germany. Several other English boys had worn them, some with great reluctance. On the station platform, Roger stood six inches taller than me as he shook my hand in welcome. He wore a red checked shirt, brown sandals and these unbelievably tiny black leather shorts. He smiled, picked up my case and strode off towards the family car. I hurried after him, noting how much taller he'd grown since we'd last met and that his voice had indeed broken. Then, in a pulse-quickening moment, I realised I could glimpse, just below his shorts and alternating from one leg to the other as he walked, the crease which marked the start of his bottom.
Roger's father was waiting by the car and he clapped me on the shoulder in greeting and said to take off my cap, jacket and tie. We set off through the country lanes, with me sitting in the back, beside Roger. At first he worked his legs rapidly up and down until his thighs got used to the hot plastic car seat. I answered questions about my school as politely as I could but was distracted by the sight of Roger's long, bare legs beside my little grey-clad ones. I noticed how his legs sported a light tan and guessed he must have worn his little shorts very often. He wasn't a boarder, so could be at home in the evenings and at weekends, wearing what he liked. I was jealous of that but one thing was for sure – I was not at all envious of his leather shorts – I could never wear anything so shockingly revealing!
I hoped Roger wasn't aware that I couldn't take my eyes off his legs. I remembered seeing German boys much older than me with Lederhosen so short that their bottoms peeped out below the turn-ups. The halter harness that many boys wore with Lederhosen pulled the shorts very high and I recalled a boy of about fifteen standing on a step-ladder in a bookshop, reaching up to a high shelf. His raised shoulders pulled up the harness, which hauled his shorts as high as they could go, so high that they revealed a glimpse of white briefs and a two-inch chunk of his bare bottom. His bottom was white but his hairless legs were nicely bronzed and oh, so smooth. It was a delicious sight!
Looking at Roger, who wasn't wearing a harness, I experienced a wave of excitement and hoped he'd wear those shorts all weekend. With a tinge of guilt I recalled how the sight of him on his bike a year before had resulted in my first proper hard-on, an event both alarming and pleasurable. I was brought back to the present when the car turned a sharp corner and Roger's knee suddenly came into contact with mine for a few seconds. I felt a sort of electrical tingling through my body, a very different sensation to that which had shot agonisingly through my body the night before in the study of the hated housemaster.
We arrived at Roger's house and once he'd got out of the car I had a side-view of him which clearly showed the curve of his bottom starting just below his turn-ups. If he stayed in those shorts the weekend promised to be very interesting indeed. His mother came out to greet me and gave me a big hug, the first display of affection I'd received since bidding goodbye to my parents over six weeks before. She welcomed me into their house, which was deep in the countryside. The late afternoon had got even hotter and she looked at me, perspiring in my grey woollen shirt, grey flannel suit and long, grey, woollen socks.
"Good Gracious, Jolyon, you can't go around dressed like that! Why don't you go straight up and change into something cooler?" When I said all I had were my pyjamas she said "Well, I'll see what I can find. Wait there, darling."
I felt a sudden sense of foreboding. In a moment she returned, bearing some clothes.
"Here are some of Roger's clothes. A bit small for him now but I'm sure they'll fit you perfectly. Pop upstairs and get changed, darling."
I tried to look grateful as I took the pile of clothing. There was a light blue cotton shirt, some white ankle-socks and – you've guessed it – a pair of leather shorts, looking impossibly tiny. I suddenly felt faint.
I must have looked nervous, for Roger, standing beside me, said "Perhaps he'd rather not change, Mum. He never liked wearing shorts in Germany. And you bought me those little ones years ago, when I was eleven! "
"I know, darling, and you've grown a lot since then but I'm sure they'll be just fine for Jolyon. He looks so hot in those clothes and I'm sure he'd rather be cooler."
I stammered my thanks and Roger showed me to his bedroom so I could get changed. It was certainly a relief to shed the hot and itchy school uniform, and Roger's blue shirt felt blissful. Trembling, I held up the shorts and examined them. They were pale brown and the leather was well worn and very soft. There was a zip fly and a belt, no pockets at the sides but little ones at the front. There were no turn ups and the inside leg length was no more than an inch. At each side was a vertical slit, about three inches long, which had once been closed by laces but these had long gone. Surely I could think of some excuse not to wear these terrifying little shorts. But what could I think of?
I held the shorts up to my waist and looked in the mirror. I could see they wouldn't cover much. This was going to be excruciating. Slowly, I put them on. They were tight round my waist and pulled firmly round my bottom. Having fastened the top button, I found with dismay that I couldn't work them down over my hips in an attempt to preserve a little modesty. So I was going to be stuck with them in just one position. I looked at my image in the mirror and saw my face scarlet with embarrassment. Even my swimming trunks, which I hated, were longer than these ridiculous little shorts. I could see my underpants peeping out below the shorts, just like I'd seen on some German boys. It looked indecent but what could I do? I'd now been so long that Roger called from downstairs to ask if I was alright.
"Just coming," I replied. I had no alternative – I had to wear those shorts!
I took them off again and rolled the waist band of my Y-fronts round and round to make them sit much higher. They now felt really tight. Back on with the shorts again and another look at the mirror. Now I couldn't see my underpants showing so I seemed to have found the best combination. I'd never worn anything so revealing. How was I going to cope? The new tightness round my bottom reminded me that it was still very tender after last night's treatment. And then it struck me like a blow and my chest heaved: would the cane marks show? Would I look like Royston? Could I pull the shirt out and wear it over the shorts? I stood at the top of the stairs shaking with nerves. No, it only reached to just below my waist so it wouldn't hide anything. I'd just have to make sure nobody looked at me from behind.
I descended the stairs in trepidation, trembling with embarrassment and went into the sitting room, taking care to position myself so that I always had my back to a wall.
"Ah! You'll be much cooler now, darling!" said Roger's mother. "And you do look sweet. Those shorts fit you so well, darling!"
I tried to smile gratefully, despite my deep embarrassment and saw Roger looking at me with a frown on his normally open, smiling face. Could he see something? I fidgeted nervously and moved behind some furniture. Then he said he thought we should go for a bike ride. He'd borrowed a second bike especially for this weekend. I was anxious to be out of sight of grown-ups so this struck me as a good idea until I realised sitting on a bicycle saddle in my condition was going to be very painful. Then I wondered how wide those slits would open as I cycled along. It might help if I could contrive to ride the bike standing on the pedals, without sitting on the saddle. It would also be less painful on my bottom.
So, out went Roger and I, and off down the lane we cycled. He was his usual, cheery self, his fair hair glinting in the sunlight. My bike was a bit big for me, so it was actually easier not to use the saddle but to hover just above the cross bar. I could perch gingerly on the saddle when freewheeling. I was terrified of anyone seeing me but long-legged Roger was showing much more bare flesh than I was and might divert the stares of onlookers from me. Not used to wearing so little, I felt virtually naked and I couldn't believe that people wouldn't gawp when we rode past. As it happened, we saw few people and none appeared to be remotely curious.
I sometimes cycled alongside Roger while he chatted about the sights and sounds of the countryside and I watched his smooth, lightly-bronzed legs pumping away. I couldn't see his underpants even though some of his bottom was exposed and it crossed my mind he wasn't wearing any underwear. We had few hills to tackle and cycling along in the shade of the trees was a pleasant experience; I felt cool and unrestricted. It was great to have shed those hot and itchy clothes. I was very careful, however, not to get ahead of Roger, fearful that he'd see the red cane marks at the top of my legs. I remained alert for any pedestrians and if a car came past, I made sure I was standing on the pedals, hoping the saddle would hide the view of my poor, battered hindquarters.
At a quiet riverbank Roger suggested we sit down and watch the river go by. We put the bikes down and sat with our legs dangling over the swiftly moving water. It was idyllic. Roger lay back on the grass and drew his knees up. He seemed friendlier than he'd been in Germany. The warm afternoon sunshine bathed his body, his fair hair was shining, he had a look of contentment on his handsome, freckled face and his bare arms and legs glowed in the heat. He looked stunningly good. I became aware of a strange feeling – a desire to rest my hand on his thigh, just to feel the smoothness of his skin. I looked at my little white legs and wondered if I'd ever grow to look as good as Roger.
A group of six people was approaching along the riverbank and I instinctively got to my feet, attempting – without success – to pull the legs of my shorts down a bit. I tried to keep my back to the river as the people stopped to chat. They were saying how nice it was to see two boys letting the sun get to their arms and legs and were looking more at Roger than at me. I held my hands behind my back to cover my shame, which probably made me look very respectful.
Two of the men were wearing tweeds and one of them, perspiring freely and fumbling with his pipe, began to talk to me about the joys of life in the open air, saying he wished he was young again and could 'go around in nice little shorts like that.' He asked how old we were and where we went to school. He came closer and looked me up and down. Then he dropped his pipe and I instinctively bent over to pick it up for him. Thanking me, he said youngsters of today need to learn the value of good manners and firm discipline. What did he mean by this? Had he seen something? I could feel myself turning red as I stood there with my hands tightly clasped behind my back. I wished he'd leave me alone.
"You, my lad, are setting a fine example to some young men I can think of," he said, addressing me but looking pointedly at the other man in tweeds. "Nothing wrong with firm discipline to teach a boy good bahaviour, eh?" He looked back at me and winked.
I then realised the second man in tweeds was a boy, only about three years older than me and rather pimply. His pink face was drenched with sweat, which he kept wiping with a sodden handkerchief. He looked incredibly hot in his three-piece suit of hairy tweed and kept plucking at his trousers to pull the material away from his legs.
"Can we go on, Father?" he whined. "It's been such a long day and this heat's killing me."
"Come and meet young Jolyon first," said the old man. "He knows the meaning of discipline."
The sweating youth shook my hand. His hand was dripping with moisture and I was glad when he let go, so I could wipe my hand on my shorts and put it behind my back again. He told me how nice I looked. I said I'd borrowed Roger's clothes and he glanced over at Roger, then back at me.
"Those clothes are his? I'm surprised he can get into those shorts!" he said, suddenly more animated, his eyes wide and a hint of a smile on his face as he turned to study Roger in greater detail.
At last, the people moved on and Roger and I sat down again on the bank.
"That poor young guy in the tweeds!" exclaimed Roger. "Fancy wearing clothes like that on a day like this!"
"Or on any day," I commented, stretching out on the grass, for once grateful to be wearing so little.
"It's obvious his father's got 'im right under his thumb," added Roger. "Poor bloke! I've never seen anyone looking more miserable, or so hot and sweaty."
"I think he was jealous of you, Roger – he was looking at you in a funny way," I said, thinking of the hot young man's yearning looks.
I relaxed a little and we chatted about the times we'd shared in Germany. Then we talked about our respective schools. Roger was a day-boy, cycling to and from school every day. Lucky thing, I thought. He asked me if they used the cane at my school. I felt myself blushing again and wondered if he'd noticed my marks but he changed the subject and talked about school food instead. I wanted to feel comfortable with him but we didn't know each other well. In Germany we'd been acquaintances rather than friends. He was being a superb host but we were far from being intimate. I lay back, watching the high clouds and wishing time could stand still, postponing my return to school, preferably forever.
Eventually, Roger said we should be going home and we began to pedal slowly along the riverside. We soon reached the road and a village. My self-consciousness returned dramatically when a small party of kids our age appeared ahead, all wearing jeans. A couple of them jeered at our tiny little shorts and others wolf-whistled as we rode past. I pedalled faster and wanted the road to open up in front of me so I could fall into oblivion. Roger made no comment, although he did speed up a bit. I was blushing again and eager to make the safety of home. Soon we reached Roger's house and put the bikes away. The clock chimed six as we entered the house, to be met by Roger's mother. There was a table piled with delicious-looking food. Desperate to put on my horrible grey shorts, I said I'd better go up and wash my hands.
She said "Yes, have a quick wash but there's no need to get changed, boys. It's such a lovely evening and it certainly won't get cold."
So that was it, then. I couldn't get changed and was now faced with the high probability of my well-caned rump being spotted by the grown-ups. As I pondered this, my bottom began to throb painfully and I wondered how many more days it would take for the ache to disappear. Then I remembered poor Royston, for whom life was presumably one long pain in the bottom! I stood alone in the sitting room, feeling with a finger where the pain was worst, trying to judge whether that area was covered by the shorts. I reached the inescapable conclusion that my lowest weal was out in the open for all to see and that the people on the riverbank must have seen it. The old man in tweeds had obviously been referring to it when he was talking about discipline!
I was terrified at the prospect of spending the evening in close proximity to grown-ups and wearing those shockingly brief shorts. I knew if Roger was happy to sit there with his bare legs on display I should try to follow suit. But I was so self-conscious. I felt permanently flushed and contrived to hover about, standing rather than sitting, with my back to the wall. I knew that if I sat, what little there was of the shorts would ride right up my hips. My insistence on standing probably suggested to the others that I'd acquired saddle sores, which I suppose I had, but by a different route! When it was time to sit at the table, I was able to pull the tablecloth over my legs and keep them hidden. Aside from the pain I felt sitting on a hard chair, it was a position I felt moderately happy in.
Later, we left the table and moved to the sitting room to watch TV. Roger lay on the floor, his knees drawn up and his head cradled in his hands. Once again, I could see some bare buttock. I couldn't bring myself to adopt a similar posture, so I sat cross-legged on the floor, with a newspaper spread out over my legs, hoping my pose looked natural and not a desperate search for modesty. Roger's parents were obviously used to their son looking like this; he looked not in the least self-conscious.
Time for bed, and I quickly and thankfully got into my pyjamas while Roger was in the bathroom. I was lying in the spare bed when he came into the bedroom to get undressed. I turned politely away, by rolling over, thereby taking the pressure off my still sore bottom. Roger got into his bed, turned the light out and asked me if I'd like to do some fishing in the morning. It took a couple of seconds for me to realise I wouldn't be caned for talking after lights-out. I didn't ask but assumed we'd once again be wearing Lederhosen and worried in case he introduced me to some of his friends. To my relief he said the weekend was just for the two of us and we could do whatever I liked. A few minutes later, I rolled over and looked at him, now sleeping soundly. I remembered his long legs glowing in the sun as he'd lain by the river and I felt strongly aroused. The two pairs of shorts lay together on a chair and their difference in size seemed quite apparent. I remembered what the sweaty youth had said about Roger fitting into the shorts I'd been wearing, the ones he'd grown out of. I went to sleep wondering what Roger would look like in those tiny brown shorts.
Next morning, Saturday, the sun was shining from a cloudless sky and the day promised to be even warmer than Friday. When Roger leapt out of bed, I was surprised to see him wearing just a pair of boxer shorts. I asked him if he wore those instead of pyjamas and he said he did wear pyjamas but only in the winter months. He stood in front of me, smiling. His boxers were at least two inches longer than his black leather shorts. Then he whipped them off and put on a pair of underpants the like of which I had never seen before. There was nothing at the back except for a narrow band that went between his buttocks, while at the front was a sort of pouch into which went his willy and balls. The most substantial part of the garment was the deep, elasticised waistband.
"What's that?" I asked.
"It's my thong. Haven't you seen one before? They're not very common but I sometimes use it with PE shorts and always with Lederhosen."
I suddenly felt very young. At school, we were forbidden to wear anything under sports shorts. I'd heard rumours that older boys wore something called a jockstrap but really had no idea what it might be. It sounded rude. As Roger put on his black leather shorts, I realised why I hadn't seen his underpants peeping out – his thong would remain hidden under even the shortest of shorts. He disappeared to the bathroom and I got dressed. I wound up my underpants even tighter than I'd done the day before to make my own thong. I tried to see in the mirror whether the red marks on my bottom were fading but quickly had to put the leather shorts on when I heard footsteps approaching.
It didn't seem quite as bad putting on the shorts for the second time but a glance in the mirror when I was fastening my shoes showed that the side slits pulled open alarmingly when I raised my leg. I hadn't realised such a big gap appeared so would have to take even more care when sitting or cycling. My apprehension heightened when I went downstairs and I tried to edge the waistband of the shorts down but it was impossible. Thank God I wasn't wearing a harness with these shorts; it would have dragged them even higher! The trembling started again. I adopted the now familiar routine of trying to remain standing and keeping my back to the wall but was not entirely successful and felt my face and neck once again flushing with embarrassment.
Breakfast safely over, with a packed lunch to take with us and the fishing kit strapped to the bikes, Roger and I set off, but in a different direction from the day before: I supposed he wanted to keep clear of those jeering boys. We travelled quite a long way and ended up on a canal towpath in remote countryside. We set up the rods and prepared to see what we could hook out of the canal. There was nobody about and I began to feel safe. I enjoyed Roger's companionship very much as we chatted and fished. A few little fish were in the keep-net by the time we decided to have lunch. We returned the fish to their canal and wandered off a little way from the bank and sat down to eat.
I was no longer feeling self-conscious in Roger's company and sat like him, with my knees drawn up, as I leaned against a tree trunk. It was an odd sensation to feel blades of grass tickling my bare bottom – those shorts really were tiny!
"When did you get beaten, then?" He suddenly came out with the question I'd been dreading.
"How did you know?" I stammered.
"Well, it's pretty obvious, Jolyon, with those marks on your – um - legs."
"Can you see them?"
"Couldn't really miss 'em when I saw you come downstairs with my shorts on yesterday but I didn't want to say anything, seeing as you looked so nervous."
I felt myself blushing. "I didn't think it was that obvious," was all I could manage. "Did your parents see?"
"Oh, I shouldn't think so," said Roger. "Actually, there's one mark on your legs, the others are sort of higher up."
"You could see marks there as well?" I gasped.
"Only when you were cycling. And now, of course. My shorts are really a bit small for you."
I quickly straightened my legs. "I wish you'd told me yesterday!" I muttered.
"Actually, I had to look quite hard to see the other marks. I was curious because you seemed so embarrassed in my shorts. That's why I looked."
"But why couldn't you have told me yesterday, before we spent all evening with your parents?" I was getting angry now.
"Truth is, I thought if I told you then, you wouldn't want to come out again today."
"No, I wouldn't. But you let me......" I started to sob and couldn't get any more words out.
Roger did something I thought both extraordinary and marvellous. He moved closer and put an arm round my shoulders.
"You can talk to me about it, you know," he said softly. Feeling his warm arm around me I turned towards him and began to cry properly.
"I hate that school! It's horrible!" I whimpered. Roger clasped me to him and let me weep freely. The tension released, I told him about how I'd been caught talking after lights out and my subsequent caning.
"The thing is," I said, "I wouldn't have been talking if I wasn't so excited about coming to see you for the weekend." He held me tighter.
"Does it still hurt?" he asked.
"Not as much. Except when I'm sitting on the saddle or anything hard. Are the marks beginning to fade yet?"
"Turn over and lie on your tummy."
I did as bidden and felt his fingers gently running over the most painful weal, the one at the top of my legs. I winced. Then he carefully lifted one leg of the shorts and I felt his fingertips on my bottom.
"Yes, the three other marks are all here, very close together. They still look very angry. Does this hurt?"
"No, it feels sort of nice."
"Look, Jolyon, I've got some Nivea Crème, cos cycling sometimes gives me a rash. Can I rub some on for you?"
He went to his bike and returned with a little tin of Nivea. With extreme gentleness he applied the cream to my bruised skin and softly worked it in. I'd never felt anything like it. I was very glad to be lying on my front, for I realised I was getting an erection. I was too physically immature for anything else to happen but I still remember my heart beating faster and the uniquely, warm, comfortable sensation enveloping me.
When he'd finished he, too, turned over onto his front and lay down close beside me, so that our legs were touching. My head was resting on my arm. I said "Thank you, Roger."
"That's OK." He sounded out of breath. We just lay there, lost in our own thoughts, our legs still touching.
Eventually, I turned over and said how hungry I was. The spell was broken and we tucked into our sandwiches. Roger was being quieter than usual and when I caught his eye he said "Shall we swap shorts?"
"Why?" I asked.
"Well, mine are bigger and they might hide those marks. Let's see if they will."
"Yes, but I thought you'd grown out of these little ones," I said.
"I reckon I could squeeze 'em on," said Roger, with surprising eagerness.
So we checked there was nobody about and took our shorts off. Having quickly unwound my underpants, I put on his black shorts which like the others had legs of barely an inch – the width of the turn-up. But they were much roomier and I found I could work them down my hips a little. I stood in front of Roger and asked him if he could see the red marks.
"Turn round slowly," he said, in only his thong. "Nope. They're well hidden now."
Then he began to put on his old shorts, the brown ones. It was a mighty struggle but he could just fasten the top button and do up the zip.
"How do I look, then?" he asked.
He was quite a sight. The shorts were extremely tight, following his every contour and were so tiny that nearly two inches of his bottom were exposed. The image of the German boy on the stepladder came back to me. The side slits made a triangular opening, which exposed Roger's hips, his thong remaining discreetly just out of sight. However, there was nothing discreet about the area of bare flesh now exposed. I wasn't sure what to say. He made to sit down and suddenly yelped in mock pain.
"I can't bend!" he said. "Too tight!"
He was right – the shorts were so tight he couldn't easily bend at the waist. He went to his bike and returned with a pocket knife.
"Can you make these slits bigger?" he asked.
Now I guessed why the side slits had been lengthened. He confirmed that he'd had to cut two inches when he was still regularly wearing those shorts, to make them less constricting when cycling. Now he wanted me to cut the slits even longer. I had quite a job, because the leather was tough but, by putting one hand inside his shorts and holding the fabric, I managed to make the slits longer. My fingers were in contact with the smooth skin of his hips, just below his waist and, never before having touched anybody there, I felt that strange, electric sensation again and my willy hardened.
When both slits had been lengthened to four inches, the triangular opening was larger and from the side I could see even more of Roger's graceful hips. If I'd known then what the ultra short, split-sided shorts of the 1980s would be like, I should have thought nothing of it but back in 1959 I thought he was being incredibly daring.
"Shall we swap back again, Roger?"
"No – you look much happier in the ones you're wearing."
"Yes, but are you happy in those? I mean, they're tiny. You look like a German boy!"
"Oh, I'll manage. You're my guest and I want you to be happy."
I could have kissed him.
"Those German boys," added Roger, "I thought some of them looked pretty sexy."
That comment surprised me and I saw Roger was blushing. He quickly changed the subject.
For the rest of the afternoon we carried on with our fishing, cycling from place to place and generally enjoying the warm sunshine. I became aware that my legs and arms were feeling the effects of the sun. Roger seemed content in his old brown shorts which - to use his own expression - made him look pretty sexy. I couldn't take my eyes off him. When he stripped his shirt off, he might as well have been naked. The smallest pair of swimming trunks would have covered more of him than did those crazy little leather shorts.
I asked him what he wore at school. He wore blazer and long trousers but wouldn't have minded shorts in the summer, so long as they weren't like my horrible flannel ones. He wore jeans at home but liked getting into shorts when the weather warmed up, although he'd be embarrassed to let his friends see him in leather ones. His parents had given him his new, black shorts a year earlier so he wore them at home to please them but never in town in case he was spotted. I was much happier in them than in the tiny brown ones, feeling less self-conscious when we met people, confident that my shaming red marks were now out of sight.
On our way home it was Roger's turn to feel self-conscious. A group of men cycled past us and I noticed a couple of them staring at Roger, craning their necks round as they travelled past. Perhaps they were as captivated as I was by the sight of all that bare bottom showing as Roger pedalled along. The contrast between his tanned legs and white bottom was very obvious. When they'd gone Roger suggested we find a secret place where we could swap shorts again.
"Are you sure you don't mind?" he asked.
"Your Mum would think it odd if we came home with each other's shorts on." I said. So we swapped and I had to put on those tiny little things again, now even more revealing with their extra-long slits. I remembered to wind up my underpants again.
"How do the red marks look now?" I asked, turning away from him.
"Much the same, I'm afraid. But we'll soon be home. Do they hurt still?"
"Not really. That Nivea has worked wonders."
"Good," said Roger. "I'll put some more on later, if you like. And I'll bring it again tomorrow."
Now that was a nice thought....
As we cycled home, although highly conscious of my bare thighs and desperate not to meet anyone, I was feeling defiant. Roger had shown such tenderness and consideration to me - how could I not feel good? I thought he must like me a lot and it was fantastic to be with somebody I so admired, not just for his kindness but also, let's admit it, for his physical beauty. It was only in that last couple of hours that I'd realised Roger was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen. I gazed and gazed at him as he cycled along in front. Then there was a rumble of thunder and black clouds hastened across the sky.
We got home, put the bikes away and made the house before the first raindrops fell. The summer storm refreshed the humid atmosphere and the temperature dropped. Paramount in my thoughts was the question of how to hide my punished bottom from Roger's parents and I regarded another evening in those miniscule little shorts with dread. Then Roger, winking at me, said he was going to put his jeans on and, again, I could have kissed him. Now I could put on my dull but safe school shorts and wouldn't have to face the evening panicking about what Roger's parents might see. With enormous relief, I ran upstairs and changed. The school shorts felt hot and chafed painfully on my thighs. I realised the sun had really got to work on my legs. The discomfort was a small price to pay for modesty though, and I felt safe at last. Roger put on proper underpants and then his jeans. I knew I'd be seeing his bare legs – and probably more – the next day.
The evening was spent very happily. As it was Saturday, Roger's mother made a really super meal and we all played a game of Monopoly afterwards. I was so relieved not to have to watch how I sat and even relaxed enough to sit on the sofa with one leg crossed over the other, a pose I couldn't have dared to adopt the night before. When Roger and I were in bed we planned the next morning. He knew another very quiet place where we wouldn't be disturbed. What could he mean? By now I wanted very much to touch his body; did he realise that?
I lay on my tummy, my bottom still a trifle tender. Yet again, my willy was stiff. I was trying to imagine what it'd be like to stroke Roger's bottom.
In the morning, sun was flooding into the bedroom when Roger's Mum brought us each a cup of tea.
"It's going to be a marvellous day, boys. Even hotter than yesterday." Her words were prophetic in more than one sense.
Roger was in the room when I took off my pyjamas. Well, he'd seen me now so there was nothing to hide. I could see him watching.
"Just stand still a moment, Jolly," he said, using his new pet name for me. "Turn round a bit. You know, your legs are so pink from the sun I can hardly see those marks."
"You mean they're pink all the way up?"
"Yep, as far as the middle marks." I was horrified that some of my bottom must have been exposed to the sun when I'd been lying on the grass but the suntan seemed a good way of disguising those awful cane marks.
"Can you have another look when I've got the shorts on?" I asked. This time I didn't wear my underpants but just put the tiny shorts on. Observing me closely, Roger got me to turn round a couple of times and then sit on a chair.
"Yes, the marks have nearly gone. And the shorts are so tight you don't really need underpants. Just sit with your knees together so your privates don't pop out."
I was used to wearing no underpants under my sports kit but those little leather shorts were much, much shorter than my PE shorts. Still, if Roger thought it was OK not to wear underpants, then it was OK. He was in charge. I couldn't help noticing a bulge in the front of his boxers as he went to the bathroom. Was he feeling the same about me as I felt about him? I could have kissed him.
Confident that my cane marks had merged into the suntan, a new feeling of liberation came over me when I mounted the bike. I liked the cool morning air washing over my bare legs and tickling the skin on my hips through the big gap made by the side slits.
"Let's go, Jolly!"
I rather liked Roger's pet name for me; he'd invented it the night before and was the only person to use it so it was very special. Cycling along, I was highly conscious I had no underwear on. I'd wound them up so tightly on the first two days that they hurt when I was cycling hard. Now, even though the leather shorts were very tight, I felt freer and, if I'd known the word then, uninhibited. It was lovely. We cycled to another spot beside the river; it seemed just as secluded as we'd hoped and we set down the bikes and looked into the water.
"Shall we forget the fishing and just lie in the sun?" said Roger.
The day was quickly becoming very warm indeed and the sky was completely clear. "Why don't we go to your secret place?" I suggested. He readily agreed and we were soon in a good place near a small wood but with plenty of sun-drenched grass to lie on.
"Now, let's swap shorts again!" he said, unbuttoning his black shorts. I saw that like me, he had no underwear.
"Thought I'd join your club!" he grinned, when he saw me staring at his nakedness. "Come on, Jolly, take yours off too!"
Having forced the tiny brown shorts on, Roger reclined on the grass, sipping from his bottle of lemonade. He was shirtless, his knees were drawn up and he leaned on one elbow as he drank. I found myself gazing in wonder at this vision of loveliness. Feeling somewhat overdressed by comparison, in his new black shorts and still wearing a shirt, I settled down beside him and accepted his offer of a sip from his bottle. We absorbed the sunshine and enjoyed each other's closeness.
After a while he said "I keep thinking about that awful caning, my little Jolly, I'm sorry for you having to go through that all alone, with no friend to look after you."
He reached out with his arms and I moved forward on my knees to join him in a huge hug, a hug that lasted a long time. We settled on the ground, clasped together and then he wriggled free to wipe his eyes. He'd been silently crying. I stood up to check the coast was clear, then looked down at my beautiful companion.
My willy was as stiff as it could get so I sat down again. "You know when you put that Nivea on me yesterday?" I said, cautiously. "Well, it felt lovely, and I'm not talking about the Nivea!"
"I liked it too," said Roger. "I've never touched anyone's bum before. At least not like that. Rugby doesn't count."
"The saddle's made some marks on your bottom," said I. "Would you like me...."
"To rub some cream on? You bet!"
So began an extraordinary session of innocent but sensual intimacy. Roger found a soft patch of grass and lay down on his front. I applied the Nivea in the gentle, caressing manner he'd used on me, beginning at the crease where his bottom started, pressing down hardly at all with my fingertips. He moaned softly. I moved my attention to his right buttock. He wriggled a little and sighed. To reach more of his bottom I had to force my fingers inside the tiny, brown shorts, the soft leather caressing my knuckles as the pads of my fingertips caressed Roger's perfect skin. It was pure white, untouched by the sun and smooth as porcelain.
I'd noticed at school that boys older than me often had hairs on their legs. As I gazed down at Roger, I realised that only below his knees was there any hair; his upper legs and the sizeable area of his bottom I could see were entirely hairless.
I'd never examined anyone's body as intimately as I was now doing. The very contact with Roger's flesh set off all sorts of tingling sensations around my body and, as I worked gently away, I was aware of yet another erection. My hard little willy poked out the front of Roger's black shorts – which I, of course, was wearing. I tried to put it back inside but it wouldn't fit. I hoped I wouldn't have to stand up suddenly and prayed we wouldn't be disturbed.
When I'd finished my spell of nursing I told Roger he could turn over.
"I can't," he said. "I don't want you to see me cos it'd be embarrassing."
"Well, I'm glad you can't see me either," I murmured.
He rolled over. I stared at him. His leather shorts had given up the struggle to contain his very excited willy and it waved about waywardly. He stared up at me in return. I think we were both equally embarrassed and quickly lay on our sides, very close together and facing each other. Saying nothing, we put our arms around each other and drew each other close. Our bare legs entwined, we lay there for what seemed like hours. I felt so warm, so excited and so loved. I'd never felt anything like it, ever. At last, I kissed him, just a little one on his cheek. I was in Heaven. He returned the compliment, just as briefly.
Suddenly my blissful mood was broken when I looked at my watch. I had a train to catch. I said we'd have to think about heading for home soon and we ought to swap shorts again.
"No, Jolly, not yet. I know you hate other people staring at you."
Roger cycled off in the tiny brown shorts, having somehow stuffed his willy inside them. I hoped there'd be no gangs of boys to taunt him.
While we were cycling through a village, Roger asked me if I'd like an ice cream. What a treat, I thought. I offered to go in the shop to make the purchase but Roger insisted it was his responsibility, took some coins out of his saddlebag and went in to buy two orange ice lollies. As he stood waiting at the counter, a man buying cigarettes dropped a coin on the floor and crouched down to retrieve it; I could see him gazing up at Roger's shorts and what lay precariously inside them. He couldn't have missed the absence of underwear.
When we were outside, I said "That man was staring at you, you know, Roger. He could see an awful lot. I think we'd better swap shorts soon."
Roger blushed and, for once, looked self-conscious as he hurried back to his bike. "Now you know why I don't wear Lederhosen in town!" he said. "Those people we met by the river on Friday were staring at you, Jolly. I don't think you noticed, but they were, especially when you bent over to pick up that man's pipe. One of them asked me if we had caning at my school. Like I said, these old shorts are really much too short for you. Let's wait a bit longer before we swap back."
I felt myself going red again, remembering all too clearly how the man in tweeds had been staring at my legs while speaking to me.
"If you think they're too short for me, what on earth d'you think they look like on you? "
Roger didn't answer but accelerated away to get out of the village. I supposed he felt duty-bound to compensate me for having – albeit unwittingly – displayed my cane-marks. I thought he was acting with great gallantry. When I'd finished the lolly, I tucked the wrapper away and kept it for years – as a private reminder of this very special afternoon.
Not far from home, we stopped beside a thicket and, leaving the bikes by the roadside, went into the trees to swap shorts for the last time. When we'd each taken our shorts off, Roger began to laugh. "I don't think we should make a habit of this!"
"No," I said, "I bet grown men don't get up to this sort of thing!"
We were both laughing as I put on the tiny shorts again and Roger the larger black ones. Then we fell silent, knowing our private time had only minutes to run. Now clothed again, we grabbed each other and fell to the forest floor for one last friendly wrestle. Legs intertwined and arms around each other's body, we rolled about, breathing hard. There was another kiss.
We lay still until our willies had become docile enough to stay inside our shorts, then we got to our feet and sadly made our way back to the bikes. We pedalled away from the scene of magic and spoke not at all. At home, Roger put on his jeans and I changed back into school uniform. Oh, how restricting and hot it felt. The sun had now made my legs quite red and the harsh flannel rubbed painfully against my thighs. Roger and I stood in his bedroom, our eyes in constant contact. He asked me if I'd like to keep his little brown shorts.
"I know they're old and tatty, Jolly, but you look really nice in them!"
They'd caused me terror and abject embarrassment two days before but now represented a tangible link with our very special weekend and I gladly accepted Roger's offer. I packed them carefully at the top of my case.
"And you look fantastic in yours, Roger," I said. "As sexy as a German boy!"
"Not too short, are they?"
We smiled knowingly at each other. "No," I lied. "They're perfect."
Roger's father called up to say it was time to go and five minutes later we were all in the car, heading for the station. Roger's Mum had prepared a large bag of cakes, fruit and other goodies for me to take back to school and I managed to get that into my case too. It was extremely hot in the car and I vaguely wondered whether the sweaty youth was wearing his tweeds today. I pulled my grey shorts up my legs as far as I dared, to relieve the itching and Roger, possibly misinterpreting this, moved his long legs over to touch mine. I put my raincoat (why had I brought a raincoat?) on my knees. A minute later our hands crept together and met under my coat. So it had been worth bringing it! Nobody spoke very much. My hand was clasping Roger's. His Dad asked if it had been a good weekend and we said in unison it had been the best we could remember. His Mum looked at his Dad and they smiled at each other. What did they guess?
It was dreadful standing on the platform waiting for my train. Roger stood a few paces away and just looked intently into my eyes, saying nothing. I was dreading going back to school but it was almost a relief when the train drew in. Gushing my thanks to all for such a fantastic weekend, I began to cry and Roger's Mum gave me a last motherly hug. Roger was standing very quietly, pretending he had a smut in his eye. I boarded the train and someone slammed the door shut. I frantically opened the window and reached out to Roger's hand. He grasped it firmly and when the train moved off didn't want to let go, until he could run no faster and had to release his grip, his damp eyes locked on mine.
The train entered a tunnel and I looked at my tearstained reflection in the window. Gloom enveloped me and I went to sit down. I felt all alone again and sat still and limp for several minutes. I was so numb with misery I forgot to feel the rough flannel pressing on my sunburnt legs, the tight shirt collar clamped around my neck and the ridiculous cap sitting on my head. Then I remembered the leather shorts. I took my case into the toilet and opened it. I picked up the shorts and held them close. They were still warm, and I pictured Roger when he was last wearing them, just a couple of hours earlier, looking absolutely scrumptious in his near nakedness. I held them to my face and burst into tears again, crying for what had been and would most likely never be repeated.
Much later, back at school, I felt totally numb. I couldn't face eating any supper: I couldn't have done even if it hadn't been utterly repulsive. It was only when I was in bed that I gained a little succour, as I thought of Roger and his two pairs of shorts, and wondered whether any other boy had shared with him what I had shared. I thought of Roger's unselfishness, his nobility, his beauty. I pictured him cycling to school in the morning. I remembered those jeering boys and their foul wolf-whistles. Thinking of that distracted me from my own miserable life and I silently nibbled at one of Roger's Mum's cakes I'd smuggled into my bed. Then I thought of him lying in the sun in his tiny leather shorts, his long, bare legs aglow in the sunshine and I experienced the inevitable erection. At least, I thought, I can have some pleasure in this ghastly place, but only when I'm tucked up in bed. There would no longer be any need to talk after lights-out.