Home Australia The beatings were brutal and sadistic…many of us left school with demons sewn into the seams of our souls, says EARL SPENCER

The beatings were brutal and sadistic…many of us left school with demons sewn into the seams of our souls, says EARL SPENCER

by Elijah
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Earl Spencer in his Maidwell suit

Maidwell’s headmaster, John Porch, whom we nicknamed Jack, enjoyed hitting us with a sneaker for the most trivial offenses, such as talking after lights out.

Shortly after arriving I learned that at school there was never a day without victims. After tea, at least half a dozen of us disappeared into the dimly lit hallway that led to Jack’s study.

While you were outside, the sound of Jack’s knocking came through the closed door, a terrible warning of what you were about to suffer. Stomachs gurgled, throats went dry, and buttocks tightened as terror increased its grip.

One of my friends was so distraught that he lost control of his bladder and stomach. Hearing this, Jack ran out of his study and asked, “What’s going on?”

The boy replied, “I spilled something, sir.”

Get yourself wet, rather! Jack was furious. ‘Dirty boy!’, before furiously sending him back into the hallway to clean himself up.

The beatings were brutal and sadisticmany of us left school

Earl Spencer in his Maidwell “Sunday Best” suit

When your time finally came, the vice principal ushered you in. Shuffling into the gloomy study, your eyes acclimated to find Jack sitting, merciless, ready to dispense physical pain.

He listened with obvious disappointment as the director read his fault and then issued a brief denunciation of his conduct, before transferring a slipper from one foot to one hand and motioning for him to come to him.

He was expert at the next part, pushing you down so your stomach rolled over his skinny knees, before lifting the vent of your jacket so he could aim unobstructed at your ass.

The blows were delivered quickly and roughly, with all the strength of his sinewy arm, before he shoved you away in disgust. You headed for the study door as your head spun with shock and pain, biting your lip and blinking hard.

If the schoolboy’s offense went beyond the limits of the headmaster’s slipper, there were two canes, so famous that they received their own names: ‘The Flick’ and ‘The Swish’.

The director would be told to leave the room. Jack would tell the student to take down his pants and boxers before petting him in private.

The Flick was a thin, malicious instrument, administered with such force that it had a pistol-like sound and cut the skin, letting blood flow from the tight lines.

Particularly serious misdeeds saw him reach for The Swish, a sturdier, knotted piece that packed a bigger punch.

When he was in the mood for something a little more exotic than these two old faithfuls, the principal would walk to the shore of the school lake and use a razor to cut a bamboo stalk that he used as a “single.” about a specific victim.

A friend of mine from Maidwell, who died a few years ago, spoke of how, during a spanking in the studio, Jack reached down to touch the boy’s scrotum.

Another former student told me how, while he was being whipped, he saw a large bulge in the front of Jack’s cavalry serge. The director slapped him hard on the face and shouted, ‘How dare you turn around? Look ahead!’, before completing the beating with additional force.

One of my Maidwell colleagues was called into the studio with a pupil who had cut down a sapling in the school grounds. He ‘he whipped him (the other boy) in front of me. It was very difficult.’

He then turned to my friend and spanked his buttocks so hard that the cotton of his boxers became tangled in his torn flesh as the blood dried. My friend was only able to separate his clothes from his wounds that night after the matron immersed him in the bath and his underwear became free from his wounds.

Jack’s main henchman was the Latin teacher, the Honorable Henry Cornwallis Maude, a vicious sadist with a powder keg temper. Later, he became High Sheriff of Kent.

Charcoal drawing of the eleven-year-old count by Robert Tollast

Charcoal drawing of the eleven-year-old count by Robert Tollast

Charcoal drawing of the eleven-year-old count by Robert Tollast

His specialty was throwing chalk and markers at us during lessons. She also handcuffed us tightly over our heads and pulled us by her ear as he spun her around, enjoying her screams of agonized protest.

While wandering around the classroom during a Latin exam, one of my contemporaries, Thomas Scott, attempted to cover up his work. They hit him in the head from behind him and he fell unconscious on his desk.

Outside of the classroom, Maude was in charge of swimming. On Sunday mornings she took the best swimmers of recent years to secretly swim naked.

While us preteens took off our boxers, Maude did the same, his cock jumping expectantly. One of my closest friends was not allowed to enter the water except through what the teacher called “the human slide.” This was Maude, naked, leaning against a tree, with an erection.

My main memory of him is an unprovoked attack when I was ten or eleven.

Seeing me alone in the boys’ boot room after a cricket match, he sat down next to me, knelt on me and hit me hard with one of my cricket boots, its metal spikes puncturing the skin of my bottom in a crack. dozen places. .

Adult anger seemed to burn like an eternal flame in Maidwell. Another teacher, Thomas Goffe, was a boiling human cauldron with a visceral hatred of privilege. Since many of Maidwell’s students were descendants of aristocrats, landowners, and the great banking, brewing, and manufacturing dynasties of England, their normal environment was at a boiling point.

I especially disliked him and would lash out during classes, hitting me on the head with his wide, hairy hands, so that I would stagger with dizziness and pain.

On several occasions, he intentionally turned his hand at the last second so that his thick signet ring opened my scalp. She got her way because I had a thick mop of red hair and my blood froze at the roots before drying there, invisibly.

What were these men thinking, I wonder now, as they wielded all their adult power against defenseless preteens?

When I recently mentioned to a former Maidwell contemporary that I had suffered sexual abuse at Maidwell, he immediately named the member of staff responsible. “I always knew,” he said. ‘But how?’ I replied. We had been friendly as children but, because we were years apart in a rigidly hierarchical place, we had never been confidants.

‘I just did it. It was obvious.’

To my horror, he told me that he had been sexually assaulted in Maidwell three times, when he was nine, by someone who was supposed to protect him. His attacker threatened him with terrible retaliation if he ever told anyone what happened.

His main memory of Maidwell, he told me, was being made to feel worthless every day of his five years there.

He suffered intense harassment, especially from the director: “I was petrified in front of him,” he says. ‘He took me to a place inside me that I didn’t want to go.

‘I’ve never gotten over it. I don’t have anger, I don’t want justice, whatever it is, but I do know that my life never had a chance, once that school marked me so much.’

Since then I have had several similar meetings with contemporaries of Maidwell who suffered terribly.

‘Tell me,’ I asked one of them, ‘when you think about the school, what’s the word that comes to mind, the one that really sums up the place?’

He stopped and looked into the distance before settling on the label to place it on his memories of his five years in Maidwell: “Scary,” he said. He snorted, embarrassed in an English way for having revealed something that could be seen as a weakness or a failure.

I pushed him: ‘And what was the root of that fear?’

He sniffed again.

“Waiting to get hit one more time, God knows what.” Blinking hard, a successful 60-year-old man suddenly reconnected with the vulnerable child he had been, caught in the tendrils of overwhelming sadistic rituals.

I have often witnessed a deep pain, which still flickers in the eyes of my Maidwell contemporaries.

The tangled root of that pain goes back to not being loved, encouraged, or valued, as we might have been at home, but belittled, scolded, beaten, and, if we’re lucky, simply tolerated.

Others appear to have survived intact. But many of us left Maidwell with demons sewn into the seams of our souls.

They stole my innocence, I lost my virginity at the age of 12 with an Italian prostitute

MEN who find out what Assistant Matron Please did to me in Maidwell tend, at first, to give a boyish thumbs-up: ‘You’re so lucky!’ they say.

‘Would you say that if the genders were reversed?’ Asked. ‘You know, if it was a 20-year-old man who sexually abused an 11-year-old girl?’

Then they understand it.

The effect of what he did to me was profound and immediate, awakening desires in me that had no place in someone so young. I felt a vagina when my friends longed for a first kiss, and they touched me sensually during those long, intoxicating hugs. And, to my shame, it had felt good.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, as the cliché goes, and this childhood abuse meant he wanted full sex from too young an age.

The matronly assistant had given me a taste and I wanted the extra portion that I felt she had promised me but withheld. I lost my virginity at age 12, driven by a compulsion.

Late at night, during a trip to Italy with my mother and stepfather, I looked out of my bedroom window toward the square below and saw a lady in a short skirt standing in a corner under a streetlamp. My stepfather saw her when we came back from dinner and whispered to my mother, “a prostitute,” and she nodded.

Before long, I walked downstairs and left the guesthouse without saying a word.

—How much does it cost? I asked, using words I had heard my mother say when opening the negotiation for a purse earlier that day.

“Thirty thousand lira,” she replied.

He took me to a room that, like The Uppers, was in an attic. When it was about to happen, I said, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and she looked at me blankly, not understanding English.

After another pause, I let the woman take the lead, silently and firmly. It was a dynamic that was familiar to me.

There was no joy in the act, no sense of arrival, nor of coming of age.

I now believe that I was simply completing the process initiated by the matronly assistant’s perverted attention.

Afterwards I felt empty and cold. I didn’t sleep with a woman again for five years, until I was 17 and my girlfriend was 18.

  • Extracted from A Very Private School by Charles Spencer, to be published by HarperCollins on March 14 at £25. To order a copy for £22.50, go to www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Offer valid until April 18; Free UK P&P on orders over £25

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