from Mary

Dear Helga,

I am a freelance designer, working from home. About four years ago I decided to recruit a "personal assistant", which I did through a contact site on the internet. The terms of employment were made clear to him from the outset. He (we'll call him Harvey for the purpose of this forum) would be addressed at all times by his surname. He would obey my house rules and observe a strict dress code. He would address me as "Ma'am" or "Miss Jenkins".

This has worked far better than I could have imagined. Harvey attends school three days a week (I have converted a bedroom for this purpose). He wears a traditional uniform, gymslip etc and has a programme of self-study and directed learning. We operate on the basis of four ten-week terms a year. In a matter of weeks this regime achieved a remarkable degree of regression

For business meetings at my house or elsewhere, Harvey wears a white camisole, white Oxford shirt, tie, white suspender belt and knickers, white culotte slip, 60 denier black stockings, black loafers and a trouser suit. The trouser suit and shirt are sufficiently ambiguous that they don't attract attention or adverse comment.

Harvey goes to school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week. This is a proper school day, starting at 0900 and finishing at 1600. Lunch is from 1200 to 1300. Harvey takes a packed lunch to school and eats it between 1200 and 1230, wearing a white pinafore over his uniform. At 1230 he goes out into the garden (wet or fine) and remains there until I call him in at 1300. If it's wet he puts on a school hat and raincoat and wellingtons.

Before school Harvey brings my early morning tray to my bedroom at 0730, wearing his cotton school vest, navy gym knickers, black suspender belt, 60 denier black stockings and flat, black school shoes. If he looks clean and neat he is allowed to put on his poplin blouse and gymslip, which I inspect before breakfast. The gymslip has to be thoroughly sponged and pressed and free from stains or other marks. The blouse has to be free of creases except for those ironed into the sleeves. Before he leaves for school I then inspect his blazer which has to be similarly well presented. The blazer and gymslip (he has three sets: green, maroon and navy blue which he wears in rotation) are tailor made and fit perfectly - so, in theory, he starts the day looking really smart!

At 0845, he is sent up to the schoolroom where he stands to attention outside the door. Just before 0900 I go to the class room and make sure it has been left clean and tidy. If I have earlier found fault with his uniform or the classroom does not pass inspection, I command him to bend over the punishment chair and I administer six strokes of the senior school cane: ten seconds between each stroke. He then stands in the designated corner for ten minutes, hands on head, knickers to his knees and the back of his gymslip tucked into his suspender belt.

If he has been punished, school starts 15 minutes late at 0915 (and ends at 1615). I then set him his morning's work (which I can describe in more detail another time) leaving me free to go to my studio and start my own work. He is allowed a ten minutes break at 1030 and his activities are monitored throughout the day by CCTV.

Although morning school ends at 1200, he has to remain at his desk until I dismiss him. If I am delayed by an urgent phone call or a client meeting, he is expected to read one of his set books until I arrive. He then has his hour's break, at the end of which I set him his afternoon work, which may include a practical session such as needlework or button sewing practice.

The school day ends at 1600, although, as previously described, he may have to wait to be dismissed. If I have had to cane him earlier in the day, I will usually keep him in for 30 minutes after school, writing the standard line: "I MUST observe my dress code and obey all of the school rules all of the time." He then has ten minutes to tidy the classroom.

He is free from about 1615 to 1700 and at 1700 joins me in the dining room for tea, still in uniform and, again, he has to put on a pinafore. After tea he clears the table, washes up and invites me to inspect the kitchen. From 1830 to 1930 he does an hour's homework in the family room, and from 1930 to 2030 he has free time. He has to report to me, ready for bed in pyjamas at 2045. If he has written lines earlier in the day and I find them unacceptable for any reason, he is sent to bed an hour earlier at 1945. In which case, at 2045 I call him down to my study for a hairbrush spanking.

On non-school days (Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) he has to complete a total of six hours of homework and project work spread across the four days as he wishes. He has to plan and manage his own time and hand in all of the work by 1700 on Monday. There is no excuse for failing to complete any of the tasks. I expect him to change into his school uniform when doing his schoolwork, as it helps to focus the mind.

I review his classwork and homework once a week. If it is all satisfactory he is allowed to choose his outfits for the following weekend but has to follow the appropriate dress code. For example full length petticoat under a dress, waist petticoat under a skirt: both with matching knickers and petticoat.

If I am dissatisfied with his week's work, he has to change into his gym kit. Games top and skirt, navy gym briefs, white ankle socks and plimsolls. He reports to my office to apologise and request punishment, whereupon I send him to the classroom to await my pleasure. The usual reward for poor performance is 12 strokes of the senior cane. If I am particularly cross with him, he will also receive a Sunday afternoon detention of two, four or six hours tedious work in the classroom, in uniform.


Thank you for your letter Mary. Keeping your assistant to a tight schedule and a structured environment ensures total obedience, what we strive to encourage here at PDQ. Not only is this type of regime easier for you to maintain it is immensely effective for the pupil. Very well done.


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