[The Tawse’s Tale starts, obviously, with The Tawse’s Tale #1. This part of the story starts with The Tawse’s Tale #4.]
Anyway, there’s Margaret Dick, very kindly taking time on Saturday to let a passing stranger buy a tawse. Now me, that stranger: I’m in a story and so’s Gemma, waiting in Rome. That story needs Margaret Dick to be having a cup of tea and a toasted cheese sandwich in a Cowdenbeath tearoom, with two tawses for sale. But Margaret Dick isn’t there to be an extra in my story. She’s doing a stranger a favour, and doing business. In any case I doubt she’d like this story much.
Over the teacups we talked about my time in Scotland. She was polite while I ran through the highlights, the stone circle on the Isle of Lewis, my fondness for Red Hackle whisky (Bertrand Russell’s favourite), the ceilidh I’d been to, Cawdor, Culloden, Glencoe, and so on. She mentioned a few places I should probably see next time. Then we got down to business and unwrapped the tawses.
The thing is, the heavy tawse is a serious instrument. If Scots schoolgirls had been been used to getting that across their hands or arses, then they’d been tough girls.
Their descendants, the girl neds of Glasgow are still pretty tough. On Friday nights they’d grab boy neds by the shirt and bollocks, or, if the boys were too late, the girls’d just throw up on their shoes. The window for scoring a drunk, randy but conscious neddette was narrow; you had to get the timing just right. Anyway, I’d liked Glasgow girls, but they had a hide.
Gemma, on the other hand, was a soft girl with a hide of peachfuzz and petals, a girl who’d know and be terribly sad if there was a pea under the mattress. I thought I should get the lighter tawse, for her. But I looked at it, hefted it, thwacked it not too obviously against my palm. It was more practical as an instrument of discipline, but it didn’t look as physically, palpably real as the heavy tawse. It didn’t look as authentic.
So I chose the heavy tawse, the terror of disobedient schoolboys and girls for a century or so. Atmosphere is everything. And I could use it carefully. I passed over my 150 pounds, and Margaret D handed me a certificate. of authenticity
Now I was a valued customer, there was a question I’d been bursting to ask. There was a lot of talk on the website and some over tea about how the original John Dick’s Lochgelly tawse was a collector’s item. It was assumed, at least officially, that they must go in an alcove somewhere, in little shrines to the schooldays of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There was no acknowledgement that, surely, most of the people buying these tawses weren’t social or educational historians: we were intending to use them, for sexual purposes, on consenting, adult, submissive lovers.
So I said, conversationally, what she must know, that I was going to use this tawse, not display it. I was interested in whether she’d talk about the many admirers of the tawse, the dungeons that must order in bulk, the field trips from the London BDSM Community Group, things like that. I finished, “so I’d be using your tawse for good, of course; not evil.”
There was a brief pause. Dead pan. Dead bat. Dead ball. “Too much information?” I asked.
“Too much information.”
So I said something about how much I was looking forward to clambering on Hadrians Wall before I got to Hay-on-Wye. Then, a businesswoman and a tourist who’d finished their transaction, in which sexual toys had not figured in any way, we went our separate ways.
That’s the end of Margaret Dick’s guest appearance in this story. I’d like to add that the tawse really is excellent, well-made, certain to outlast me, and it looks and handles very well. That’s all I can say about its performance for now: Spoilers!
You can contact Margaret Dick, of John Dicks, for all your tawse-buying needs, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
[To be continued.]