Personally I blame the Women’s Institute. That branch where they did the fund-raising calendar, with various women of a certain age taking off their kit. You know, they made a film about it later. I’m all for women being happy in their own bodies and so on, and I think it was a really good idea for a fundraiser, but it has become something of a cliché. Every half baked committee with a dearth of ideas has persuaded its members to strip for the camera now, and although it’s certainly providing a lot of work for photographers like me, I’m getting a bit sick of it. I’ve done calendar photos for the rugby club (big muscles, no brains), the football club (neither muscles nor brains), the rowing club (big muscles, no manners), the Operatic Society (don’t go there), Old Uncle Tom Committee and all. Few of them pay their bill on time. The poor photographer gets blamed for everything. I’m really good now at saying at the planning stage “you do realise that the camera puts half a stone on you”, and not saying “and that’s on top of the stone and a half you’ve already got spare”.
But you have to take your work where you can get it, and that includes the village cricket club. Fundraising calendar. Eighteen players to use in twelve pictures. Each month to have one picture (small) of a player or players dressed or mostly so, and one picture (large) of the same in the buff. Nothing tasteless, no bits on display, please, this is to be sold in the village shop. Just remember that the captain won’t see forty again, and is captain because he has a mind like a trap and has been known to out-think semi-pro players in visiting teams, and the wicket-keeper isn’t quite twenty, and although five foot eleven, can’t be more than eight and a half stone. It makes a change from weddings and graduation pictures.
I can’t afford big classy premises in the town centre. I have a tiny shop front, with a tiny office, and a dark room behind it. Behind that again is the reason I took the place at all: a big space with permission for me to park what I like on it. I keep the motorbike there, and the van. The van cost me an absolute bomb; it’s what I bought rather than premises. It’s basically a container lorry, converted to a studio. It’s got all sorts of lighting, and all sorts of backdrops, and a tiny changing room with a wardrobe. I’ve got a licence to drive it, and I take it out to people, stick it in the car park and do the job inside it.
So off to the cricket club and the (by now traditional) discovery by my photographic subjects that there is something their committee hasn’t told them.
“She’s a woman! Fred, she’s a woman!”
I got their attention. “Yes, gentlemen, I’m a woman. The breasts are generally a clue. The point of this calendar is to make you look sexy. For this you would trust a man? Would you expect a man to know whether you looked sexy or not? And if he thought you looked sexy, are you taking your clothes off for him?”
By the law of averages, one or two of them at least would probably rather be sexy for a man than for a woman, but I haven’t found that to be a profitable line of enquiry in a sports club. So we had twenty minutes of slightly coarse joking about them taking their clothes off for me (the rowing club was longer and coarser, and the Operatic Society, which did His and Hers Calendars, was so obscene that it startled even me). Eventually I managed to get them shut up, and lined up, and I started to look at them.
“Have you got any ideas yourselves about how you want to split this up?”
They had and some of them were quite good. The twins were an obvious pairing, and the slip fielders wanted to go together as a group of three. There was another pair: a gorgeous black man who actually was nearly black, not brown, whose mate was a very pale blond. I could do something there. The opening batsmen belonged as a pair, and so did the strike bowlers. All the others were singles. They had already allocated themselves month by month, using some scheme of seniority that escaped me, so I agreed to it and made a list of names. I didn’t care what order they came in, I told them (dirty laugh from someone), so they made up a rota, and went off to nets, on the understanding that I wanted them at the time appointed, clean and showered, hair DRY please, those of you who have any, fully dressed to start with. I was left with a bat, helmet, scorebook, set of bails and stumps etc. to use as props. To work.
The twins came first. They really were easy. Dressed, they stood together, facing the camera, looking knowing. Stripped, they sat on the floor, back to back, each with a raised knee, looking innocent. The camera loved them, and if I didn’t like my men looking old enough to leave home, I would too.
The slip fielders were more difficult until something put the notion of the Three Graces in my head. (Either you see the cricket joke or you don’t.) Two facing one way and one the other, each holding a cricket ball, arms raised. It’s amusing dressed, and surprisingly sexy undressed, with decency preserved by boxes. I thought, privately, that this might turn out to be a calendar popular with gay men, but I didn’t say so.
In general, they were a lot more biddable than most of the groups I photograph, and by lunchtime I was well up on the rota. After lunch, I was rattling through the remnants, and by four o’clock, all I had left was October.
I had eaten my lunch on the steps of the pavilion with batsmen and bowlers and scorers and general hangers on coming and going, and I was aware of a certain amount of banter between the players on the subject of me making them look like sex gods, with a lot of it aimed at one particular man. The gist of it seemed to be that I would have my work cut out, but I thought privately that I had in the past done more with less. Anyway, he was October, and he arrived with a face like a wet Monday and a chip on his shoulder. I ignored this, putting it down to nerves: not everybody likes to be photographed, so I chatted cheerfully while I did light checks etc., and then I smiled at him, and said “Have you got any ideas, then?”
“Just get it over. It doesn’t matter.”
Now that piqued my professional pride, as you can imagine. I put the camera down, and parked myself to look at him. On a closer inspection, he wasn’t just pissed off, he was apprehensive and something else. Hurt?
“You really don’t want to do this, do you?”
“No. It’s a stupid idea.”
“Why did you agree to it, then?”
“Everybody else was for it. I couldn’t be the only one who wouldn’t do it. But we both know you can’t do anything to get a decent picture of me, so can we please just get on and get something that will satisfy the committee?”
“Sorry, I’ve missed something here. Why can’t I get a decent picture?”
“Don’t patronise me! I’m quite aware of what I look like. You can’t make an ugly man sexy.”
I laughed. “Two things here. One is that I’m a professional photographer, and I’ve done a certain amount of glamour work as they call it. It certainly isn’t glamorous, and you wouldn’t believe how badly it pays, but I can make anybody look sexy. And secondly, you aren’t ugly. I admit you aren’t as pretty as the twins, but there’s nothing wrong with your features.”
“Bullshit. I’m plain and that’s all there is to it.”
“That’s not what you said. Plain isn’t ugly. Stand up straight and let me have a proper look.”
I was careful. There was something here that was raw in his mind, and the look in his eye told me he was intelligent enough to know if I did bullshit him. I walked round him and considered him, and the blush rose from his collar.
“O.K. Your hair is good, not a remarkable colour, but thick and well cut. Like I said, your features are good enough. Your eyebrows are a little heavy, perhaps, but so what. The nose is large” that hit a spot! “but the shape is O.K. Your mouth is good. You have beautiful hands” which he instantly stuffed in his pockets! “and what I can see of the body shape looks fine to me. Long legs, usually a good idea provided they aren’t too spindly. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a builder.”
“Oh sod. Not good. Shirt off in the first glimpse of sunshine. Brown torso and white legs. Now that is a problem.”
“Do me a favour! Haven’t you noticed that it has rained more or less non-stop since February? I barely get my shirt off in the shower!”
Better. He was relaxing a little. “So what’s the problem?”
The scowl again. “All the bits may be O.K., but the combination isn’t any good. I’ve been told that before.”
Ah. The root of the problem. “Who said?”
“My ex-girlfriend. I heard about it later. She and some of her mates, in the pub…”
“Well, I’m telling you that the body is fine, but I don’t think much of the brains. Everybody ought to know to ignore all the things that are said after relationships break up. If your girlfriend said you were a cross between Quasimodo and Frankenstein’s monster, it wouldn’t make it true. She’s just looking for something to hit you with, and plainly she’s found it. I can make you look like sex on a stick if I feel like it, without you having to take off so much as a sock, and if you’re a builder, then the only thing I have to fear about the body is the tan.”
“The other guys don’t think so. They reckon you’ll be struggling.”
“Oh yes? What is this, an attempt to put me on my mettle? Shut up a moment and let me think.”
I thought hard and fast. The idea came to me more or less at once, but I wasn’t sure how he would take it.
“Have you the nerve for something out of the ordinary? I think we could make you look a bit edgy and it would work rather well. You haven’t got the looks for Virgin Innocence, I grant you that, but I think we could make you look as if you would be fun to play with but rather dangerous.”
He stared at me and then laughed sourly. “You’re the boss. If you think you can make me sexy, I’d like to see you try.”
“Good man. Right, the black jeans are fine, but we need a button up shirt, not a T shirt, and a belt. Let’s have a look at what I took earlier… Go and find somebody who was wearing a white shirt, Mike or Denis, and take it off him. And Denis had a black belt as well. Get that. If they want to know, tell them that I think that you’ll make a perfect Top.” In his dreams. Mine were different.
“What’s a Top?”
“If you don’t know, far be it from me to mar your innocence. Just keep an eye on the reactions. It may serve to amuse you later.”
He came back five minutes later with shirt and belt, and I set up a chair.
“Put the shirt on. Oh, you have. Undo another button. And another one. No, better the way it was. Don’t put the belt on. Sit down there. Cross one ankle onto the other knee. Now, double the belt and just let it hang over your shin. Keep both hands in view. Perfect. Give me the Look.”
“Threatening. Dangerous. No, not like that! Look, do you bat or bowl?”
“Suppose I was plumb lbw. and I didn’t walk. Give me the Stare. Brilliant. Keep still. I’m just going to take one with the digital for the light.”
The look slipped a bit but the pose was perfect.
“Right. I’m going to take half a dozen to be sure. The Stare again… good. I want the viewer to think that if she doesn’t do as she’s told, there’ll be trouble. Lovely. Cross your legs the other way this time. Now put both feet on the floor. Lean forward. Put your elbows on your knees and let the belt hang dead centre. The Stare… I was right. You make a lovely Top.”
He blushed. “Pete told me what it meant.”
“Oh yes? And how does Pete know?”
“Isn’t this a little risky? The calendar ought to be respectable.”
“My dear boy, what can you mean? I’ve just caught you in a bad temper before you were quite dressed. Anything less than respectable is entirely in the viewer’s mind.”
“How do you make it work when I take my kit off?”
“Well, you can’t top, that’s for certain. Behind that curtain, you’ll find a shelf for your clothes, and a robe. Quick as you like.”
I set up a plain background with two angled grey screens and waited for him. He emerged, blushing a little, but no more than the others had done. I showed him, briskly, what I wanted.
“Kneel down, facing the corner, and stretch up as high as you can. Cross your hands on top of each other, and turn your head a little this way. Shut your eyes.”
He moved towards the screens and hesitated. I turned obviously away to give him a little privacy to take off the robe. I’ve found that a lot of people are comfortable either dressed or undressed but don’t like to be seen half and half.
“Yes. Good. Lean on the corner. It’s quite up to your weight. Can you stretch any further? Other hand on top. Nice. I’m getting lovely muscle definition here. Good bum. Sorry, shouldn’t have said that. I can’t take anything if you blush! Try to look apprehensive.”
“Imagine that I’ve promised you a smack, and you aren’t quite sure when it’s coming.”
The muscles jumped in the neat buttocks. Oh yes. This was much more what I had in mind.
“Lovely. I just need you to lean a little this way. No, not as much. May I touch you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I want to move you, and it’s easier to push you into place than to explain what I want. I never touch my subjects without express permission. I won’t if you don’t like it.”
He was pliant under my palms as I rearranged him to my satisfaction.
“O.K. One for the light. Come and see this. If you don’t like it, we’ll try something else.”
Though I say it myself, it was a damn good photo. He had a rangy, muscled back, a little arse that begged to be bitten, and a beautifully natural submissive expression. He gazed at the tiny camera screen for a moment.
“What do you think? Can I take this?”
“Take it quick, before my nerve goes.”
“Good man. Back into position. Give me the robe. Keep still.”
He twitched. I rearranged him. His head went the wrong way. I corrected it. “Keep still!” His shoulders flexed. I began to wonder. “Keep still, there. No, you’ve gone too far again.”
After the fifth correction, I was sure. I leaned over him and said, very softly into his ear, “If you move one more time, you’ll go in this calendar with my handprint on your arse.”
The quickest glance down over his shoulder, and there was the confirmation. He didn’t move, and I took several shots quickly. “Open your eyes. There is definitely a spank coming… Lovely. Now, don’t move.”
I put down the working camera and reached for the digital again. With it in my left hand, I came up behind him, and before he realised what I was doing, I had placed three hard slaps on his left cheek. “Keep still.” I backed off, and waited while the single red mark bloomed on his bottom, and then I took a picture.
“O.K., get up. Put the robe on, and come and see.”
He didn’t say anything, but came over and watched as I downloaded the frame onto the laptop. He looked delicious: an obvious spank mark, and a shocked expression. I printed it. “I’m deleting it. Watch. Now, you’ve got the only copy there will ever be. You can get dressed now. I’m done.”
We emerged from the studio together to find most of the rest of the team, hovering outside. The captain grinned at me. “Are you finished? Did you get anything worth having?”
“I think so. I think March will be good, with the three together, and I rather think that October is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I may come back to you later in the year when the photographers’ competitions fall, and talk about publishing it. I’ll get these made up and off to your printer for a draft copy. They’ll be there by the end of the week.” I scattered a blizzard of business cards (“weddings, bar mitzvahs, cricket season program notes, family photos or your chance to break into the glamour trade, take your pick”), and took the van home.
I wondered if I would ever hear of October again, and if I had completely misread the situation, or if I had opened up to him a whole new world. I would have sworn that he was a natural submissive, and I would also have sworn that he hadn’t known.
It took him six weeks to come to the boil. Then he came into the office one Friday at closing time, and asked me out for a drink. Of course I went! Who wouldn’t have done? We had one drink (I only ever have one when I’ve got the bike), and then we had something to eat in the pub, and he got more and more nervous. In the end I took pity on him.
“Do you want to come back to mine for coffee? Take your car and follow the bike.”
He had coffee, although what he really needed was another drink, and a fairly strong one. Eventually, I went over to him and took the cup from his hand.
“Why did you come to see me?”
“I thought you might like to come for a drink, that’s all.”
“Is it? It wasn’t that you had done something naughty and needed to confess it?”
He froze, rabbit in the headlights stuff. I waited.
“I… Yes. I’ve… I don’t know. Oh hell, I don’t mean… Oh shit.”
“You need a spanking, don’t you?”
Obviously, he had never heard the words before. The blush probably began at his ankles, but it ran all the way to his hairline. He was sweating. He must have felt as if he were stepping in front of a train. He shut his eyes, and his lips formed a “yes”, but no sound came out.
“I think you’re a bad boy who needs his bottom warmed. Is it true?”
The train hit. “Yes. I’ve been late on site, and I haven’t done my paperwork, and I deserve to be punished.”
I crooked a finger, and he got up and crossed the room to me. He was trembling. “Half a dozen with the slipper, and as many as I think fit by hand. I’m going to make you squirm, sunshine. Come in here.”
I took him into my bedroom. I don’t always do that, but for one thing I thought he needed reassurance and intimacy, and for another I was absolutely determined that he was coming to bed with me. A punishment virgin! I wanted him as much as he wanted a hot bottom.
“Shoes off. Come here.”
I led him over to the bed, and sat down. “Put your hands behind your head.”
He didn’t recognise what I meant, but he obeyed me, frowning. I neatly unfastened button and zip, and tugged his jeans down to his knees. He was solidly erect.
“Now, over my knee.”
I worked myself well back on the bed so that he could lie full length with just his bottom raised. Over the knee to the floor has its points – it gets the bottom higher and tighter, and it feels more traditional, and I think it’s easier on the lower back – but it can make it difficult to breathe if you aren’t used to it. I ran my hand down his back, and over his tight navy briefs, and he quivered. I began to scold, still stroking, general stuff about bad attitude, needing to think about what he was doing and so on. His erection was hard against my thigh.
“You’ve been asking for this for a long time, buster. You’re going to be one sorry boy when I’ve finished with you.”
And with that I started to spank. Not too hard at first, just sharp impacts that would sting and warm. I spread a couple of dozen evenly round his rump, not too many high up where it’s more uncomfortable than either painful or pleasurable, and plenty down near the tops of his thighs where it smarts. He lay quite still, but his cock pulsed against me, and his breathing quickened. When I heard the first gasp of pain, I stopped.
“On your feet. You can take those jeans right off. You won’t need them. I promised you the slipper, and I intend to deliver.”
He was scared, but he pulled his jeans off, and draped them over my chair.
“Face the window. Touch your toes. Tighter. Six of the best. Are you ready?”
The slipper is so noisy! He jumped at the first, and let out a squeak, and at the second he half stood up.
“Get your head back down. Next time you move, I’ll have your pants down, and you’ll get a dozen. And I’ll start again from the beginning. Is that clear?”
Unprompted, too! I lifted the slipper again and placed two swift whacks left and right. He yelped, but he didn’t move. “Good boy. Last two.”
I applied them slowly, with enough time for him to feel the good of each one. I got a long “aaah” the first time, and a whimper the second.
“Up. Over my knee again.”
“We’re not finished. Do as you’re told. Better. Now, I think we’ll have these down. Lift your hips for me. Good boy. Oh, yes, nice and red, and fairly warm. Have you been spanked before?”
“It’s obviously overdue then.” And I spanked again, smartly rather than hard. I wanted heat rather than real pain, so I didn’t lay into him. He began to wriggle quite quickly, the squirm of someone trying to find a less tender spot, but I was thorough enough to ensure that there wasn’t one. Soon I was hearing “ows” and gasps, eventually running together into a breathless “owpleasenomoreowowow!”
“Have you had enough?”
“Well, just make sure that you remember what it felt like. Another time I’ll use a hairbrush on your bare bottom, and you won’t like that one bit!”
The stiffness against my leg contradicted me…
Quite a lot later, when we had explored the possibilities of comfort and making up, he lay flat on his back (another time, he might not be able to!), looking worried. I came up onto one elbow.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“I know. You can’t tell me that you didn’t enjoy it, though. What’s bothering you?”
“I suppose I don’t like the thought that I’m a pervert.”
“Good grief. You really are innocent, aren’t you? I don’t think that liking a spanking makes you a pervert. A little kinky, perhaps.”
“What’s the difference?”
“The definition that I’ve heard going round is that it’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.”
That got a smile. “But it’s still… well, weird.”
“Tell me what you really liked. No, not just for the sake of it. Humour me. How did you feel when I said I would spank you?”
“Scared. Excited. Apprehensive. I didn’t know what you meant to do, or how much it would hurt, or whether I could take it.”
“And when I actually ordered you over my knee?”
“The same. It was terrifically exciting and scary at the same time.”
“And while I did it? Did you like it?”
He had to think about that. “Yes and no. That isn’t helpful, is it? The first bit I liked, but I think some of what turned me on was knowing there was the slipper to come. I didn’t like the slipper while you were doing it, but the way you bossed me about was great. Then that last bit, I got a great rush when you took my pants down, and when I couldn’t keep still… Yes, all in all I did like it.”
“So you want to be threatened with the cane rather than actually caned?”
He had to think about that too. “Ye-es, I think so. I don’t really think I want to be what you might call beaten, rather than spanked, but I think it might turn me on to be threatened, as you say. But I’m not sure that the buzz would last unless once in a while you carried out the threat.”
“O.K. So it’s not the pain that rings your bell. What is it then? The control? Thinking that you have to obey me?”
“Yes, I suppose so. I couldn’t actually have done anything else. I mean, I’m what, four or five inches taller than you? And probably thirty pounds heavier. So you couldn’t force me, could you? But once you said ‘Come here’ it never even occurred to me that I could refuse.”
“Just as well. I do cane for rank disobedience. Oh yes, I’ve got a cane. And a strap, too. But think about the whole thing. What did it make you feel, apart from the sex bit?”
Long thought. “Cared for, I suppose. Safe, if that doesn’t sound silly.”
“Well, I don’t think that wanting security counts as perverted. If a sore bum makes you feel safe, so what? You don’t have to do it every time.”
“Is it safe?”
I’m not sure that he realised how important this was. “With me, you’re always safe. I may push you a little further than you think you can go, but I’ll never take you anywhere that really disturbs you. I may not let you up when you squeal and wriggle, specially if you’re getting a tanning because I think you deserve it, rather than because you do, but if it’s really too much, you can stop me.”
“Safe word. ‘Please’ and ‘nonono’ and ‘ouch’ you may use as you like, and I may stop, and I may not. But if you say, oh, what about ‘October’, I stop. Always. That’s your limit. Don’t use it lightly. And don’t worry. I’ve already thought of your next fear.”
“What’s that then?”
“No visible marks in the cricket season. Welts start in October.”
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© , 2005