For a lot of us, kinks and fetishes of all kinds have their origin stories way back in childhood. It’s pretty common to be aroused throughout our lives by whatever was around during our earliest experiences of our own internal sexuality, or by something that for whatever reason our childhoods rendered taboo (and therefore exciting). One explanation for why so many people find school uniforms arousing makes sense in this context - after all, a lot of the first people we ever fancied were wearing them at the time!
This is probably how spanking got a reputation for being a British vice. In reality it’s probably no more common here than it is anywhere else in the world, but we invented the classic public school system - the overly formal uniforms, the hierarchical culture where pupils were punished as much by other pupils as they were by school staff, the focus on canes and birches and punishment books to correct wrongdoers. It’s not as much a thing of the past as one might imagine, either: corporal punishment wasn’t banned in British state schools till 1986, and it was 1998 before public schools fully abolished the practice. There are people who were spanked or caned in British schools who are now still in their 20s and 30s.
That group no longer contains most of us, of course; I certainly wasn’t caned at my inner city comprehensive in the early 2000s. It’s difficult to apply any of the old-fashioned ideas about British schooling to my experience, really, barring perhaps the uniform - which I found a thousand different ways to personalise and cheat! So what’s my excuse?
I think some of it might come down to a sort of national nostalgia, often rather rose-tinted. I sat in my so-called “rough” state comp, with its creaky 60s prefab buildings and its somewhat humiliating OFSTED reports, reading boarding school stories and coming of age novels set in some distant but unmistakably British past.
Our latest film, ‘A Visit to the Schoolmaster’, is playing on exactly this kind of nostalgic looking back to a past we were never quite a part of. Pandora has had a thing for public school canings since before she can remember, so she’s thrilled to have a chance to meet a real boarding school master - particularly when he turns out to still have his punishment book and his slender, biting canes. We’re told this tale while she’s dressed in full school uniform, smirking cheekily into the camera, the kind of gleam in her eyes that will get you a long detention.
But who wouldn’t want a long detention, if they got to share it with her?