New School Rules by Shortbacker
New School Rules
My first term at Middlehurst School was almost over and, looking back, it had been a success. I enjoyed teaching English to the boys and they seemed to respond well to the novelty of a female teacher. Obviously, I had to establish that I was able to enforce discipline. Some of the older boys, in particular, thought I would be a pushover but they soon found out I was not. Cheekiness or talking when not invited brought an immediate sharp rebuke and, if necessary, a detention where they were made to practice their writing skills by copying out chunks of poetry. Sometimes they tried less than subtle attempts to draw me into discussing risqué topics like the sex scenes in D H Lawrence. These were generally met by me feigning ignorance and then inviting the miscreant to come and discuss the matter with their housemaster, which was sure to result in a slippering. Occasionally, like when one of the senior boys asked me if I had become a lesbian because I had complied with the school code on very short hair, I was obliged to hit the nuclear button and send him to Dr. Silcox, the headmaster, for six painful reminders not to be insolent. Like many English public schools at that time, corporal punishment was common and I had no qualms about sending boys to receive their just desserts.
I was also pleased that I had met the new Chemistry master, Nigel Stevens. He had started as a teacher at the school at the same time as me but, unlike me, he had been there as a pupil before returning to teach. Nigel and I had struck up a friendship quickly and we often shared his bed. Our physical relationship did not go unnoticed by the rest of the staff but we tried to be discreet and most of our colleagues respected our privacy and pretended not to notice. Most but not all. The exception was Matron. She was a rather fierce middle-aged woman who was responsible for the boys’ health and well-being. She made it quite clear that she did not approve of our relationship and I suspect that she thought I was the major culprit in our debauchery. I let it be known that I would not be bullied by her and even deliberately allowed the school barber to cut my hair into a regulation short school haircut to demonstrate to Matron that she could not intimidate me.
One night, I was sharing a drink with Nigel in the local pub and I told him about the incident with the boy who I sent to Dr. Silcox. He chuckled and said, "Ouch! I bet he got six good stingers from the beak."
I was intrigued and asked him if he had ever been punished at school. "All the time," he replied, "it was different in my time though. Everyone could beat you: the Head, Housemasters, teachers and even Matron."
I was shocked and asked him to explain. He said canings on the backside were usually administered by the Headmaster either in his study or in front of school assembly for more serious misdemeanours. "Old Silcox would tell you how it would hurt him more than it would hurt you and he would either give you six or twelve strokes," he explained.
"Did it hurt?" I asked, perhaps naively.
"Well I am not sure how much it hurt him," Nigel replied, " but it bloody-well hurt me." He laughed and then went on to explain that Housemasters and teachers could also use the cane, the strap or the gym shoe indiscriminately but that the younger boys would be sent to Matron to be spanked with the hairbrush. I was horrified. " What!". I exclaimed. " Even Matron could punish you?"
" Certainly she could," he insisted, "but it was usually the young sprogs that she spanked, unless she caught you in a ‘round-up’," Nigel continued.
"What’s a ‘round-up’?" I asked. Nigel explained that many of the boys tried avoid the school haircut rules by using hair gel or spray and even hair pins to hold their hair behind their ears or curled under at the back so that it did not touch their collars. It usually worked quite well from a distance so the trick was to stay well away from Matron or the Headmaster so as not to be noticed. Occasionally, however, Matron went on a ‘round-up’, as she called it, where she would make close inspections of boys while they were washing or showering before getting ready for bed. Deliberately trying to avoid detection of overly long hair was regarded as attempted cheating and usually earned you three stripes with the cane from Matron right there in the dormitory over your pyjamas and, of course, a trip to Mr. Cropper, the school barber, the next day. I was horrified and it must have showed on my face as I asked, " Nigel, did she ever catch you in a ‘round-up’?"
"Lots of times, unfortunately," he replied, " She gives a pretty good whacking, I can tell you." He winced as he replied and made a comic display of rubbing his bottom as he got up to go to the bar for more drinks.
"Does she still do it?", I asked as he went to the bar.
Nigel though for a moment and said, "She definitely still does regular ‘round-ups’ but I am not sure about the punishments. It’s all got a bit softer these days."
While Nigel was away from the table, I couldn’t stop thinking about Matron and her probable delight at beating small boys with long hair. I thought back to that day in the barbershop when she had wielded her authority over the shearing of many boys and I shuddered. Although, I must admit that I was more than slightly aroused at the thought. Later that night, when lying in bed with Nigel, I made him tell me in more detail about his punishments from Matron. I may be wrong but he seemed to be turned on by sharing the stories too.
Michaelmas term ended and the Christmas holidays began. I returned to my parents home in Kent and Nigel went back to his family in Wales. We had no plans to meet up in the holidays but it turned out that we were in touch by telephone most days. My Mother was shocked at how short my hair was. Despite the fact that it had been cut ten weeks ago, it was still much shorter than I usually wore it. When I mentioned this to Nigel, he said that his Mother had been quite the opposite and told him that he would have to get a haircut before he went back to school. We both laughed and put it down to early stage dementia but i could not help thinking that as a boy Nigel must have been quite a expert at fooling his Mother.
Christmas passed and I was very much looking forward to getting back for Hilary term early in January. As before, term for the teaching staff started a few days before the boys returned. I did not see Nigel until the staff meeting on the evening of the first day back. I noted across the crowded staff room that he had not taken his mother’s advice about a haircut and that he was now in breach of the school rules on hair length, as indeed was I, but I had dispensation from the Headmaster to grow mine. I smirked at the thought of Matron including him on the list for her first ‘round-up’.
"Ahem," coughed Dr. Silcox. "Welcome back to you all and I trust you had a joyous festive season. I’m afraid that I start with some rather grave news. Our beloved Matron has contracted influenza which has led to pneumonia. She is currently in hospital but will hopefully be heading for a period of convalescence at her sister’s house within a week. I am very much afraid that we will need to do without her services this term. We have not so far been successful at recruiting a temporary replacement, so I am afraid that I will have to ask you all to ‘step into the breach’, metaphorically speaking. I have arranged for the district nurse to come in every day to take ‘ sick parade’ and to attend to our ‘fallen warriors’ but the rest of Matron’s duties will fall to you all. Obviously, the Housemasters will bear most of the brunt, but I will be asking the rest of you to step in with some of the parochial duties. I have prepared a list which I will post on the staff notice board. Please feel free to come and discuss your duties with me if you are at all unsure."
The rest of the meeting was taken up with routine term time administration and we were quickly dismissed. Both Nigel and I made our way to the notice board to find out what our extra duties would be. Half way down the list I found Nigel’s name and next to it was "Barber escort duty", so Nigel was in charge of escorting boys to Mr. Cropper for their regulation school haircuts. I searched for my name against which was printed ‘Round-up’. So my job would be to check which boys were not complying with the school haircut rules and to direct them to a Nigel for a visit to Mr. Cropper. Dr. Silcox looked over my shoulder as I was reading the notices. "An important job Ms. Collins. I am sure you sure you’ll be up to it?"
" Well I certainly hope so Headmaster. I can spot long hair when I see it and I won’t tolerate cheating."
" Quite right, Ms Collins. That’s the spirit. Any attempt at subterfuge should be met with firmness. Don’t forget to contact Mr. Cropper tomorrow to arrange the first session next Monday."
The next day was Friday. I walked into the village and stopped off at the old barbershop. Ted Cropper was sitting in a chair reading his newspaper. He jumped up when he saw me and said, "Good morning Ms. Collins. How is Matron?"
"Recovering I believe Ted but she will be off for the rest of this term. I’ll be taking over temporarily and I have come to make sure you will be OK for a batch on Monday."
"I’ll be here ready and waiting, Miss," replied the old barber with a mock salute.
" Oh, and Ted, there might be a few more than usual. I am starting with a thorough purge. I don’t want to be wasting too much time on this this term. I shall be asking you to go shorter than usual."
"As you wish Miss. I’ll tell Gladys that I will need some help."
Gladys was Ted’s wife and she usually worked in the small ladies salon next door but Ted had two barber chairs in his shop and could call on his wife for help. The boys returned to school on Saturday and I set to work immediately. I made myself busy at the school entrance as the boys arrived with their parents. A few parents came up to me directly and apologized for not having time to attend to their sons’ hair during the holidays. I assured them that it was perfectly alright and added their sons’ names to my list. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a few boys anxiously scanning the room for signs of Matron. More names were added to the list. After a while, word spread that Matron was sick and that I was taking over hair duty. A few boys skipped away deftly hoping to avoid my gaze. More names were added to the list. That evening, I wandered around the dormitories as the boys were preparing for bed and noticed a few more boys who had evaded detection earlier on, possibly by devious means. More names were added to the list and I confiscated several hair pins.
Later, I was lying in bed with Nigel and recounting my day. We laughed at the various attempts that had been made to avoid going on the list but I now had over eighty names - around a quarter of the school. Nigel laughed and said, "Silcox and Cropper will be pleased. That must be a record."
"And I’ve still got a day to go," I added while tugging a handful of hair on the back of Nigel’s head. "What would Matron say if she saw you at the moment?" Nigel was silent.
Sunday brought a few more additions to the list and that evening I presented Dr. Silcox with the rota for Monday. He was pleased with my work and told me that I would have a full day supervising at the barbershop. He said he would tell Nigel and another teacher to organise the escorts.
The next day, I was up early and arrived af Mr. Cropper’s shop just as it was opening. Ted did not look well. He was probably coming down with a cold but hopefully it was nothing more serious. Gladys was cheerful and offered me a cup of tea while we sat down to wait for the first arrivals. Gladys and Ted were both dressed in grey barber coats with scissors and combs in their top pockets. Mr. Rudd, the new History teacher brought the first gaggle of six boys right on time and I quickly had the first two caped and in the barber chairs while the others were instructed to sit in the waiting chairs. One of them, a cheeky lad called Hemmington complained to me that he thought that it was unfair as he had got his hair cut last week and he was complying with school rules. I will admit that it was borderline case but I had been strict. I told him that there were new school rules and that if he did not shut up he would be in detention. I watched as Ted took his hand clippers down and ran them up the back of the first boy’s head. I had told him that I wanted a good job done and Ted duly obliged by taking the hairline up well above the collar and an inch over the ears. He looked at me for approval, which I signaled with a nod. He continued with scissors and comb on the top and cutting the front halfway up the boys forehead. After a bit of judicious blending with the electric clippers and a comb, Ted spread a good dollop of hair cream over the boy’s head, combed a sharp parting and released him with a flourish.
"Next!" he called and the next victim reluctantly moved to the chair. Almost at the same time, Gladys released her boy and said "Next!" I inspected this boy carefully and was pleased to see that Gladys had not spared the clippers. There was hardly any hair on the back or sides of the boy’s head with a well-defined parting and small quiff on top. The amount of hair on the floor justified my selection of these two in the ‘round-up’. I directed the next boy to the barber’s empty chair and sat back to watch the hair tumble. Once again I felt a slight arousal watching by the hair fall to the floor which caused me to fidget slightly in the seat.
Just as Ted and Gladys were finishing off the first batch of victims, I spotted Nigel walking towards the door with the next group. I stared at him closely and something appeared to have changed since I had last seen him. I could not quite put my finger on what was different but he stayed outside the door as he ushered one set of boys out and the new group in, before heading off back to the school. I puzzled for the rest of the day but to no avail.
In the afternoon, I had arranged for the boys who had been caught trying to cheat the ‘round-up’ with hair clips and hairspray to be delivered together. There were several batches and I informed each of them that I was distinctly unimpressed with their attempts to fool me. I had thought of putting them in detention or even sending them to Dr. Silcox for punishment. Eventually I decided on an alternative. The first two boys took their turns in the barber chairs and I told Ted and Gladys that I wanted them both buzzed short all over - skinned at the sides and back and one eight on top with no more than half an inch at the front.
" That’s a ‘tuppenny all-off’," said Ted, cheerfully. There was an immediate outcry which I subdued by saying that they should take any complaints to the Headmaster, who may well decide on a more painful alternative. The barbershop was filled with a constant drone on the clippers for the rest of the day as copious amounts of hair fell to the floor. At last, all eighty four boys had been sheared. I thanked Gladys and Ted for their efforts and advised Ted to go to bed. He really was looking unwell now and he had done well enough to see the day through. I then went in search of Nigel.
I found him lurking in the public bar of the village pub playing darts with some locals. He was absorbed in the game and did not notice me taking my position at the end of the bar. I suddenly spotted what was different and it brought a surge of indignation. He had carefully pushed his hair back behind his ears and secured it in place with hair gel and he had obviously blow dried the hair that would have been dangling over his collar so that it was curled underneath. I thought I spotted hair clips holding it in place. I left without him seeing me and returned to my rooms at the school. I avoided him for the next few days. He sent a couple of messages via the staff pigeonholes but I replied saying I was too busy preparing for the forthcoming exams and with my Matron duties. On Friday, I arrived back at my room in the unmarried staff quarters to find him waiting for me on the doorstep, still with his ridiculous hair. He seemed pleased to see me and asked me to join him for a drink at the oub. I agreed and we passed a pleasant enough evening during which his hair was not mentioned at all. I was still furious at his deviousness. We walked back to the school and he invited himself in for a coffee.
" Everyone said what a good job you did in substituting for Matron on Monday," he called through to the kitchen. " What was the thing about two different types of haircut?"
"Oh that," I called back nonchalantly. " The shorter one was a punishment for the boys who tried to cheat. I would have preferred Matron’s old system but I’m not allowed to do that anymore, so I had to improvise." There was silence. I walked back into the living room with two glasses of wine and walked directly up to him. He looked sheepish.
" However, some of the bigger boys don’t seem to have learnt their lesson yet," I said coldly as I felt the stiff lacquered hair behind his ears and unrolled the hair above his collar.
"Sorry," he whispered quietly,"old habits die hard."
"Sorry? Sorry what?" I said sternly, as I stood in front of him with arms folded.
He looked puzzled and then it dawned on him. "Sorry Matron."
I pulled a hank of hair over the top of his ears and said, "I think you need a visit to Mr. Cropper, young Stevens. Don’t you?"
"Yes Matron," he mumbled.
"And I also think you have earned punishment for trying to deceive me. Don’t you?"
"Yes Matron," he reluctantly agreed.
"Go to the bedroom and get ready for bed. I will be through in a moment." I said sharply. I then retrieved the cane that I had earlier procured from the back of the school stock cupboard.
The next morning, Nigel was very attentive. The signs of his earlier punishment were evident as he got out of bed to make tea. He returned and we continued where we left off before we had fallen into an exhausted sleep the night before. Eventually, I reverted to my Matron persona and said, "Right Stevens, it’s time to get you to the barber. Get dressed and wait for me downstairs."
Nigel returned to his own rooms, which were downstairs from mine and I got myself ready. I dressed in a conservative skirt and blouse with a cardigan. I brushed my hair in the mirror and noticed that it was looking rathe straggly and bouffant. Matron would not approve.
I escorted Nigel down to the village with little conversation. He seemed to move more slowly as the striped barber pole came into view, so I had to encourage him along with a sharp, " Come on Nigel. Don’t dawdle."
However, a broad smile spread across his face as we reached the door and saw the ‘Closed’ sign up. I peered in through the frosted glass but could see no movement. I was just about to head back to the school when Gladys appeared from the Ladies Salon next to the barbers and said, "Ted’s not well. He’s got man flu."
"Oh that’s a pity," I said," Nigel here badly needs his haircut."
Gladys stared at Nigel and said, "Yes I can see that. Send him in to me. I could do a nice shampoo and set." We both laughed and I said, "Well I’m not sure about that but a good tidy up would be nice." Nigel’s jaw dropped and he was about to complain but I took his arm and moved him through the salon door, saying, "In you go. Time for a haircut!" I paused briefly as we passed Gladys and, on the spur of the moment, said, "I don’t suppose you could fit me in too, Gladys. I need to look a bit more respectable now that I have taken over from Matron."
Gladys beamed and replied," Of course I can, Miss. Collins. Miss. Fitchett always comes to me for her hair. I’ll start on you first. You sit over there young man."
Before I knew what was happening, I was dressed in a frilly pink gown and my hair washed in a battered old sink that was also in pink. The pungent smells of hair lacquer and setting lotions assaulted my nostrils. Without further instruction, Gladys wound my hair into tight rollers and doused it with perming lotion before wrapping my head in a towel and putting me under an ancient hood hairdryer.
"There you go dear," Gladys purred, "you cook in there for half an hour and I’ll do the young man. What’s he having done. Just a trim?"
I looked over towards Nigel and noted the visible bulge in his trousers. "Well he has been rather naughty, Mrs Cropper so I think he needs a lesson. Tuppenny all-off please. Very short!"
Gladys smiled, closed the visor on the hairdryer and beckoned Nigel to the chair. He shuffled nervously towards her as she stretched out the arms of another frilly pink gown and sat him down in front of the mirror. "Now you wait here young man while I go next door and fetch Ted’s clippers."
Nigel looked at me remorsefully in the mirror but I smiled serenely and pretended to read a magazine. Gladys returned and plugged in the electric clippers. She then pushed his head down onto his chest and ploughed the clippers up the back of his head and over the top. In no time at all his head was reduced to a dark stubble with a long fringe at the front. The clippers were silenced and Gladys took a pair of scissors and snipped smartly across Nigel’s forehead leaving just a short fringe of hair. She then picked up a shaving brush and lathered the sides and back of his head before taking a straight razor and shaving the remaining stubble off. It was all over in no time and a shell-shocked Nigel stood up rubbing his newly shorn head. The bulge had not subsided. Gladys quickly removed the frilly pink gown and sent Nigel to a the waiting seats. I was so absorbed with watching Nigel’s humiliation that I completely forgot my own situation. There was an uncomfortable tingling on my scalp and a feint smell is of burning hair. Gladys quickly came over and released me from the hood of the dryer resulting in a welcome breeze of cooler air. She seemed pleased with the result and quickly ushered me to the chair that Nigel had just vacated. She removed the towel and unrolled the tight rollers that she had earlier wound into my hair. I stared in disbelief as a tight cap of curls unfurled itself on my head. It looked like a very untidy birds nest had suddenly grown in the top of my head. I sat in utter disbelief as Gladys teased and fussed with the mess, occasionally picking at the curls and pushing a comb in and back combing tufts of hair. I was horrified but Gladys seemed pleased with the result.
"Right," she said triumphantly, "let’s tidy you up." She switched on the clippers and pushed my head down. A loud vibration began at the bottom of my neck and the tone dropped as the clippers were pushed inexorably upwards. Clumps of hair fell to my lap and I suddenly realised that she was giving me an exact replica of Matron’s hairstyle. I had no time to protest before shje pushed my head to on side and sheared me above my left ear. She repeated this on the right side andb I watched in the mirror as another clump of hair tumbled to the floor. I now had a fluffy cap of curls on the top of my head and a pelmet of stubble around the back and sides. Gladys set about reducing the top with quick flashes of her scissors until I looked back at the image of my nemesis.
"Lovely dear," Gladys crooned. "Maybe we should put a colored rinse in?"
"No," I stammered, "that’s fine for now."
Gladys looked disappointed but she picked up a can of hair spray and fired it all over my head, only stopping to tease a curl into place here and there. She then combed my fringe down and snipped in a straight line across my forehead before giving it another long blast of hair spray.
I had stood slowly and let Gladys brush me down before removing the gown. I felt like crying at the desecration staring at me in the mirror. I turned to Nigel for support but he just grinned back with a smug smirk. I turned again to examine myself in the mirror and suddenly I felt a wave of exaltation wash over me. I was Matron.