If you haven’t read Part One, you really should go there first.
So the scene is set. Embedded in every Brit over the age of about 40, and regardless of first-hand acquaintance, is an amorphous but dread fear of The Cane. This intangible respect seems to have been absorbed, as if by osmosis, into younger generations, even though corporal punishment was officially banned in schools in the 1970s (I believe), and frowned upon before then.
So what makes it so scary? It’s a light stick, and you grow beans up it, right? True. But now curve one end into a crook-handle. Now it is not a piece of cane, it is a Cane.
Bamboo is viable for use, but is stiff and brittle, resulting in a tendency to split with very sharp paper-cutting edges. Malacca is more dense, more flexible (but not too much), and remarkably resilient. And there are other varieties of cane with slightly differing properties. Thickness typically varies from 1/4 inch up to about 3/8 inch (approx 6mm – 9mm), with the precise impact sensation varying from switch-like intense sting up to more aggressive stinging, thudding ache.
Being caned is painful. It Hurts! There is none of that gradually warming burn imparted by repeated spanks, or strokes of a belt. Instead there is a single, and very specific, flash of white-hot fire. But a cane stroke is devious. Yes, you will feel the instantaneous impact, and an amount of pain, and you have time to remark to yourself “oh! is that it? is that what all the fuss is about?”, and then the tsunami arrives, crashing through your conciousness. The wave retreats, leaving a duller stinging ache in its wake. One carefully delivered stroke is an endurance test as your senses are overwhelmed, to the point that you think it is going to be completely unbearable. But bear it you do, and you are left scrabbling around trying to find where all your thoughts scattered to. It is a vivid demonstration of just how much thinking we cram in to just a fraction of a second. The closest example I can think of is when you hit your thumb with a hammer, hard. You feel the thud, and you know it is going to hurt, and then it does.
But nobody ever gets just one stroke of the cane. Traditionally, there are at least five more strokes to endure. And, as anyone who has been caned by an expert will know, they will have started half way up your bottom, and each succeeding stroke will land neatly parallel, and just below its predecessor, until the final, hardest stroke of all, lands precisely on the crease of buttock and thigh. Sitting down is going to provide a very clear reminder for the rest of the day.
And all the while, you have been expected to bend yourself properly, offering your bottom up for further chastisement.