Lurking in the headmaster’s office, the unspeakable punishment which awaited we unruly boys and girls. A thing joked about, part of school mythology but, deep in our subconscious we half believed (feared) that it was real.
I can not recollect, at this distance in time, from whence this fantastical object which aroused such terror mingled with glee in the minds of we children came. Perhaps it was the headmaster himself who first mentioned the existence of the thing. Equally plausibly it may have been one of us children who invented the instrument of punishment in order to strike fear into the hearts of his fellow pupils.
“If you are very bad you will get the …”.
I smile, removed as I am in time from my school days, at the remembrance of the ultimate punishment. No one, to the best of my recollection ever experienced or admitted to having experienced the full force of the headmaster’s displeasure. I among others received the full force of his wrath expressed in tones which brooked no opposition. We stood outside his office not daring to speak for fear of arousing the fearsome power which lurked within.
What was it which inspired such dread? and dread it we did despite our protestations to one another that such a thing could not possibly exist. Was it the swish of the bamboo prior to it bringing out welts on our unhappy legs and arms?
Imagine the most homely of objects, a slipper. Grandfather sitting by the fire in carpet slippers drinking tea or maybe smoking a pipe. Warm red slippers, now there is nothing to alarm one in such a homely sceene. Ah, but wait a moment what if grandfather in a fit of anger at the misbehaviour of his grandchild where to remove one of those homely objects, bend the child over his knee and slipper him? Not such a benign object then.
In our case it was no ordinary slipper we boys and girls feared. It was a slipper of demonic proportions, one possessed of an inner life which would deliver a slippering never to be forgotten by it’s unfortunate recipient. We feared, my dear reader the electric slipper.
Now I have no idea whether the slipper plugged into the mains or whether it was operated by batteries, none the less the demon slipper was the talk of the dormatories, the malign presence, always lurking just out of sight but waiting to wreak a terrible vengeance on anyone who aroused the ire of the headmaster sufficiently.
Did I and my fellow students really believe in the existence of the electric slipper? It was, largely a school myth designed and perpetuated by we boys and girls to add a frisson of excitement to the relatively humdrum existence of school. However I well recall passing by the headmaster’s office as night fell and feeling a shiver at the thought that something terrible might, just possibly be lurking inside.