Was searching for something about Blackpool when I stumbled across the old school base.

How good it was to see and remember some of the faces from all the years ago. Yes it was a brutal regime at Holy Joe's as I only too well remember like the rest of the contributors have stated of their own experiences. I was only at the Jailhouse for a short time as my dad got a new job up in Scotland, so my family moved away. It was sad for me as I had to leave my pals all behind, and in those days of course there was no such thing as the Internet where you could keep in touch, so you just drifted apart. I have been looking at the photos that are there, and its good to see my two best friends I had made at the time, Kevin Byrne and John Crahan in the cross country, which I was in too, though I don't know where I was as I am not in it. I hope Kevin & John are OK

As for the discipline !!!! well that was just brutal to say the least where they 'strapped' you for everything and anything. Coming from primary school where life was relatively easy going, it came as shock to me. I knew that life would never be the same again. It became a dread daily knowing you were going back to face another day at the hands of some sadist who took delight in using their instrument of torture, and if on that day it would be you who would be on the receiving end. I never once got the strap at primary school. I was quite a timid little kid from a sheltered though strict Catholic upbringing, where we my brother and sisters and me knew right from wrong, and knew that if we did anything particularly bad we could be spanked but that was very rare. It was therefore a shock to know that here at Joe's, beatings were the norm, and you sat all day wishing the end of the day would come.

For me the good luck time finally expired on a day when I was about fourteen, I had been late getting ready for school, and hurrying to get the bus. In my error I had read the wrong day on my timetable, we we getting gym on the second last period of the day, and in my hurry I had read the next day, which meant I had left out my gym kit. It was only when we arrived at school and I saw the rest of the boys in class with their kits that I realised my mistake. I knew this was my day that I would finally experience what I had dreaded since the day I first arrived at Joe's at the hands of Mr Hickey. He hated me because although I tried to do things I was no good at it. Anyway as the day drew on the time had come to make for the gym.

As usual you were asked at the start if everyone had their kit with them, and anyone not having theirs to step down to his table. I walked down with my heart trembling. "please sir" I said "I don't have my kit." "Why not?" he asked me. "I forgot to put it in my bag this morning as I was in a hurry to get the bus." He said to me well you're not supposed to forget are you, Thomson." "No sir" I said. "Well you know the rules for not having your kit, and I'm going to give you something that will help you remember in future." He went into the drawer of his desk and brought out his strap. "Right hand up" he said. I raised my hand, and I remember I was trembling trying to keep my hand from shaking as I saw him bring his arm down three cracks followed as the three strokes hit my outstretched hand. I fought desperately to stop the tears welling in my eyes, so the boys wouldn't see what a wimp I was crying but I just couldn't. I put my hand down. "I'm not finished yet boy" Hickey said. "Get your other hand up" he shouted. "Please sir, I'm sorry. I wont do it again." I told him through my tears. "Don't keep me waiting. Get you hand up." I put my other hand up and received another three strokes. I was now sobbing uncontrollably, my hands swollen and numb with pain. "Now come with me". We went into the equipment cupboard where he got me a spare kit that was about three times to large for me and told to return it after the period. That was my first experience of being given the strap, and only one of the many I was to receive during my time at Joe's.

There were lighter times too like the horrible school dinners, and how I learned to do what all growing boys do, and I still occasionally do it too.

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