At school, along with the inevitabilities of squashed sandwiches and forgotten PE kits, one thing was certain: when it came time to measure things using metre sticks in science or maths class, some wag would use the metre ruler to playfully swat one of their mates. Nothing serious or painful, just fooling around.
At the time something about it gave me a kick, and I didn't understand why. Likewise if a friend whacked me on the hand with one of the smaller plastic rulers. It hurt a bit, but more than that – it was interesting. Interesting in a way that made me realise I... well... perhaps I had a bit of a thing for it.
Rulers aren't naturally my favourite implement, as a spankee: they're whippy and stingy enough that they're reminiscent of the cane – something I struggle to take for more than six strokes before I'm clutching my bottom and praying for a belt or another soft and thwacky implement instead. But to watch, they work wonders. Just like the cane, there's a very specific tone: that of the strict schoolteacher or, in the case of this week's video, the calmly authoritative Dean of a University college.
This strict male/male spanking scene with Dr Richard Barton and Alexander Knight features a severe punishment with the wooden ruler. It starts out firm but fair, and takes place over Alex's formal trousers. Pragmatic, and a little brusque: Alexander has broken the rules, so he must bend over for a whacking. Although he gasps and winces as the ruler falls, it's obvious from Dr Barton's unruffled demeanour that this kind of corporal punishment is par for the course.
Afterwards though, when Alexander challenges the method of punishment itself, Dr Barton's character becomes genuinely angry. This is the kind of role I think Dr Barton is perfect for: the authoritarian master of an historical institution, who sincerely believes in corporal punishment as the means to correct poor behaviour.
An upstart student challenging that idea is not to be borne, and he insists that Alexander bends back over - this time lowering his trousers and baring his naked bottom to the stinging wood.
I think that the fact it's done with a ruler rather than any other implement gives this spanking scene a particular tone. A ruler is a practical tool. A no-nonsense spanking implement that's easily to hand - and one which can potentially deliver surprisingly intense pain with little exertion. It can be used to deliver a firm, measured punishment - but it can also be wielded more fiercely if the spankee isn't paying attention.
Which brings me to the hottest bit of this scene, for me: about ten minutes in, when Alexander is asked a question. The poor boy is flustered and hesitates - presumably still reeling from the burning strokes of the ruler he's just been given – and Dr Barton loses his patience and administers a ferocious flurry of blows that leave Alexander's bottom red and marked.
One thing I love about the ruler – a quality it shares with the cane – is the whooshing, cracking sound it makes. It takes me straight back to school, and the memory of the other kids messing around with the metre rules in science lessons. Of course, I was lucky not to go to school at the time this story is set, and my exposure to the ruler was just playful fun, nothing extreme or painful. But watching this video brought back that vivid memory of a whish-smack, and a laugh, and a 'hmmm... I wonder why I find this so interesting.'
It's clear that outwardly, Alexander's character is outraged to be beaten with a wooden ruler by the Dean of his University college. But I think I can detect a slight smile on his face at certain moments in this video - and I can't help but wonder if despite his protests, he is thinking something similar...