Retribution by Dorothy Snelson

 Shock. Horror!

Did Jimmy really say that? Did we hear right? Did he truly say that terrible word that must never be spoken? Did he definitely say bloody?

Miss has him by the ear and he is out to the front of the class. She addresses us sternly saying

We shall soon see what happens to boys who swear and with that she leads Jimmy from the room.

We sit in silence dreading what is to come. A class of four and five year olds in 1940s Westhoughton.

Soon they are back. Jimmy is carrying a clanking metal bucket. Miss has a gym mat, a scrubbing brush and a block of carbolic soap.

Our eyes widen in shock as we try to anticipate what is to come.

Like the sacrificial lamb Jimmy is made to kneel on the mat.

Miss flourishes the scrubbing brush and dips it in the water and applies the soap.

Anyone who swears she says melodramatically has their mouth scrubbed with carbolic soap. That teaches them never to swear again.

Jimmy is crying loudly by now and he is not the only one. We are all upset and frightened .

Miss lingers a terrifying few minutes for effect before putting down the brush and telling Jimmy to stand up.

This time you are very lucky Jimmy. I am going to let you off. I wont be so lenient next time. Take the bucket back to the kitchen.

The class heave a collective sigh of relief. I have wet my knickers and Im not alone.

Was it the right way to teach us a lesson? You decide.