The year was 1959, and I was all of seven years old. Yet again my parents were absent for several months, abroad on another concert tour. I was attending the local primary school, a 'co-ed' establishment and hugely popular with the more well to do Henley parents for their offspring. Indeed, so popular was it that obtaining a place was not without difficulty. It was my final year attending, being soon to be sent off to boy's boarding school.
One reason for this popularity was a lack of any school uniform code. We were able to wear just what our parents/guardians chose for us.
(I suppose I was somewhat over confident and arrogant, soon to beng sent away to a 'grown up' boy's school. Having already proudly tried on my new boarding school uniform.)
There were a variety of garments on show. Girls often wore 'A line' skirts, even with with flouncy petticoats when worn by some seniors. Boys wore the usual drab shorts in most cases, the suspender waists now largely a thing of the past. The woollen knee high socks becoming the usual leg wear. Many a fussy mother greatly disliking the slovenly look of these untidy looking items of hose when about the ankles. However, just occasionally a boy might still be put into a 'Yazoo' type supporter. By now this supporter having dropped the much hated embracing bodice, in favour of heavy and wide elastic straps. These combining supporters for trousers with the same for long stockings. Long stockings now woollen in most cases, silk stockings being specially reserved for the most formal of occasions. These waists still sold by certain department stores well into the 1950s. Said to be suitable for boys up to the age of sixteen years. Lederhosen, the German leather shorts, were surprisingly popular due to being hard wearing. Also an increasing number of German Nanny's were seeking employment in the Home Counties, often accompanied by their sons.
A boy now showing a waist supporter and long stockings could expect a tough time from some of the older bullying girls. Also, certain mature female teachers could also single out a boy for some humiliating treatment. It was not unusual for certain 'offenders' to be stood in front of class to be caned. (This still the expected punishment, even at first schools, in the 1950s.) His supporters and stockings fully revealed to one and all.
A new German boy was named Gunter and was sat in front of me in class, he being a year younger than myself. Being sent to school by his mother, tightly restrained in a Yazoo type of supporter, he was certainly in for certain teasing. This, in particular, by a certain group of older girls. These seniors for ever on the lookout for their next young male victim. I freely admit that I was also involved in this bullying, the hapless boy being marched down to the bottom of the garden. There, well out of sight of the teachers, made to stand with his suspenders and stockings revealed to us all.
This unfortunate boy was to reveal the sought after long stockings, but also a pair of rubber pants worn over a plainly damp towel nappy.
We now became merciless in our teasing, I well recall.
My German Nanny was quick to make his mother's aquaintance, a recent widow and also employed as a Nanny. He was a rather plump boy, and we all soon noticed the tell tale signs of his stern mother using a strap on the him. Red marks plainly visible below the boy's buttocks and at his rear upper thighs. Her son was often sent to school in Lederhosen with a taut supporter beneath. One day I could not resist leaning forward and grasping the many straps passing either side of the boy's neck. A very hard tug left the poor boy protesting loudly. I was quickly reprimanded and punished, this behaviour being reported to both our Nannies. The Christmas school play was in rehearsal, and I was to play the part of a Pirate captain. I have long forgotten the name of this particular piece, but both my and Gunter's Nannies were very involved in creating costumes. My Nanny and I would soon visit Gunter and his mother, to not only try on our costume, but also for my due reprimand.
To begin with, various costumes were laid out in readiness in the drawing room. The domestic strap was soon fetched, and I was duly stripped and dressed in a supporter and long stockings. I was to protest loudly and it was to take Gunter and both Nanny's brute force to eventually get me properly restrained. I was then forcibly held across my Nanny's knees and strapped thoroughly until I promised never to bully Gunter again. My Nanny, as usual, wore a long red rubber apron over her uniform. This as protection from a possible wetting from me, this problem going back to the recent procedure carried out by my Nanny's German doctor sister.
But, again, I was to thoroughly 'disgrace' myself in my Nanny's hands. After being pulled to my feet clutching my stinging bottom, my error was very quickly discovered. Nanny then applied the usual stinging pepper cream ointment to my reddened buttocks. Gunter and his Nanny were highly amused as I was pulled back over the rubber for further punishment. Being eventually pulled to my feet, I was greeted by a beaming Gunter and his Nanny holding up towel nappies and two pairs of heavy red rubbers. One pair of unusually heavy looking red rubber baby pants. The extra wide and thick waist and thigh elastics looking most fearful. The second pair of rubbers, again of the hospital red rubber material. These more like full bloomers with large frills below the knees. As if the first pair of rubbers was not enough, this second pair soon had me sobbing with utter humiliation as both Nannys and Gunter amused themselves at my anguish. With this second pair of rubbers now secured tight and high under my armpits, each leg was pulled secure under my knees where the large rubber bows were tied in order to hold the rubber taut over me.
Gunter was duly dressed in a rather plain costume, mine was altogether more elabourate. First put shivering into a mass of supporter straps with the old fashioned stout leather bodice, the Terry towel nappy/diaper and first heavy pair of red rubber baby pants. These buttoned on to the supporter and held up tightly under my armpits and extremely uncomfortable due to the very tight waist and thigh elastic. The second pair of rubbers, over the knee pantaloons with large frills below each knee. Also, large bows reaching to my ankles and again fastening with large buttons to the supporter. By now I was Nanny then holding up a garment the like of which I had never seen before. A pair of very voluminous gleaming red satin harem trousers.
The costume brief was to make a pirate costume suitable for a seven year old boy. Harem trousers and very elaborate frill and lace trimmed satin blouse, also suitable elabourate headwear. On being stepped into the harem pants, and them being hoist up over me to also button onto the waist, I shuddered to quickly discover that these pants were lined with a layer of rubber. At each ankle were wide rubber straps, to give the feeling of the lower body being fully enclosed in rubber. A plain satin was required but Nanny was to discover a large roll of the rubber proofed material, originally for use as a waterproof table cloth!
The School Play. Part Two. (Gunter gets his just revenge.)