Raincoat Punishment

I went to an all girls school and the prefects there were given a pretty full rein to discipline the younger pupils as they wished, short of corporal punishment. As well as the usual impositions and detentions there were always some who favoured some form of humiliating task or activity as a punishment.

A uniform, while far from modern, had ceased to include a regulation mackintosh but there were still some around, probably relics of the lost property store or ones abandoned by departing girls only too glad to be rid of them.

The mackintoshes were ghastly affairs made of navy heavy weight cotton, rubber proofed on the outside in a mid blue (we wore royal blue blazers). Even as ordinary uniform items they were hot and uncomfortable to wear and they smelled strongly of rubber.

If any of the prefects caught you breaking the rules in some minor way you would get told to report to the prefects common room at lunchtime or after school to do some work for them -- 'fagging' as it was called -- such as tidying up or cleaning shoes and so on. They all 'talked down' to anyone obliged to fag for them but some would be particularly rude just to make it more of a punishment.

Certain of the prefects used to like adding an extra layer of humiliation and make you wear something instead of just your usual uniform, such as your PE kit, so that everyone could see you were being punished. One prefect in particular liked to make you wear one of the old regulation rubber raincoats over your uniform. She insisted it was properly done up, buttoned up to the collar and fully belted and hood up or hood down as the mood took her. I think she was torn between it being more uncomfortable for the wearer with the hood up and more embarassing for them with it down so that everybody could see who they were. Doing any sort of task all bundled up in a rubber mackintosh was a hot and smelly experience, and one to be avoided.

One time -- I must have been in about the fourth form -- I was ordered to report to the prefects for running in the corridor and Julie, the prefect who was particularly fond of using mackintosh punishment was in charge of 'defaulters' that day. She tossed a mackintosh to me and stood there smirking while I struggled into it. She made me tighten the belt up another notch and do up the storm flap that closed it right up to my collar and then pulled up my hood and buttoned it closed herself before marching me in front of the other prefects.

I might have remained relatively anonymous, if horribly sweaty, inside the deep raincoat hood but by the time she'd paraded me in front of the other prefects lounging around in their common room and enquiring "Who's got any jobs they'd like Emma Nicholls to do?" I was dying of shame. I ended up cleaning up a pile of their hockey boots and even when I'd finished Julie had a good laugh at my appearance before letting me go.

The worst time though was later that year -- it must have been about May time -- and I was caught again by Julie doing something I shouldn't. That time, instead of being set some task to do in the prefects' common room she sent me to the shops to get some more milk for them.

Although it had been raining lightly earlier in the day the clouds had cleared and it was now quite warm and bright, although the ground was still wet. She used that as an excuse -- as if she needed one -- to make me put on a mackintosh and wellington boots. Rubber boots were another part of the uniform that had passed into history but again there were some pairs lying around still. The ones she gave me were a bit oversized and I could feel them flapping about my legs as I clumped down the corridor.

The other girls were giggling and laughing at me as I pushed my way through them and walked out into the playground where I attracted more laughter. There were two prefects at the gate as no one was allowed out at that time without an exeat and so I got a thorough grilling from them even though I had the note that Julie had written to give me permission to leave the school grounds. They made me explain, as if they didn't know, that I was wearing the rubber mackintosh and wellington boots as a punishment and one of them said "Well that case you'd better have the hood up as well!" Then she made me put my hood right up and button it closed.

It was unbearably hot walking to the shop, which was about half a mile away, in my raincoat and wellingtons in the May sunshine and I was steaming even more than the drying ground was by the time I got there. The lady who ran it was obviously familiar with the custom as she said "I haven't seen anyone wearing one of those old uniform mackintoshes for a while, and on such a sunny day too. Have you been a naughty girl then?"

I had no choice but to be completely polite to her, even if she was teasing me, as the school came down very heavily on any complaints it received from the town, so I had to explain that yes, I was being punished.

"Well I think it's a pity they stopped being part of the uniform," she said. "They were very smart and practical and keep you completely dry, unlike those flimsy things they wear now. That is one of the traditional rubber macs, isn't it?" she leaned forward for the counter and sniffed. "Oh yes, I can smell it quite strongly. I suppose it's getting rather old."

I just wanted to get the milk I'd been sent for and get out of there but she was quite happy to continue chatting in the absence of any other customers. "And now they just make me wear them as a punishment, do they? Well I suppose it must be a bit hot wearing a mackintosh and rubber boots on a sunny day like this, especially with that hood up. You have to keep the hood up as part of the punishment do you? Well, I suppose it's a good thing if it makes you all grow up being well-behaved."

"Yes I suppose so," I said politely, "but I can I have a bottle of milk please, I need to be getting back."

She wasn't to be deterred that easily though. Perhaps she'd had her own problems on Saturdays when girls would have been coming in en masse and she was intent on getting a little of her own back. "Let me take a good look at you. If you're supposed to be seen dressed like that there's no need for you to hurry off, is there? Why don't you walk around the shop let me see how that mac looks on you."

She had me walk around the shop with my wellingtons flapping around my legs just so she could get a good look at me. I felt horribly embarrassed, and even more so when she came out from behind the counter and inspected me more closely. "Yes, I can see you must be a bit hot in that, you're awfully red faced," she said peering in at me inside my hood. "Are those rubber boots a bit too big for you? You don't seem to be walking very comfortably in them."

I agreed readily that the wellington boots were a bit too big for me, but that just set her off on another tangent along the lines that I ought to try on a properly fitting pair of wellington boots and then I'd appreciate how practical and comfortable they really were. I doubted that I'd appreciate anything of the sort but I had little option but to once more politely agree.

I was eventually only able to persuade her to go and get the milk from the coldroom and let me get away as another customer arrived, but not before being treated to another inspection, by the pair of them together.

Needless to say the time I got back I never wanted to see a mackintosh or pair of rubber boots again as long as I lived -- or so I thought.



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