The lickin’ stick


This story starts with something as innocent as buying a CD, but as I found out as a child, and learning later on as a teenager, in the wrong hands, music can have a very powerful effect on people, and  I stress in the wrong hands can have a very damaging effect on peoples life’s.

It all started when my father, while visiting our local record store, picked up a copy of Desmond Dekker’s album ‘Black and Dekker’ he bought it because of the popular track “Israelites” go figure, with my father being heavily religious. At first it started out fun listening in the car signing along as a family, but was a few weeks later when it became more sinister ….

My father got obsessed with the second track on the album “Lickin’ stick” (originally by James brown I believe) playing it over and over again. The song refers to a stick used to administer corporal punishment (or in other words a “licking”).

He used to explain, in great detail to me and my brother and sisters, this was the way the west Indians would punish their children. In his words, the father would send the child out to find a good stick for lickin’ and you would return and receive the punishment from the stick you returned with. The idea being, while looking for a good stick it would give you time to reflect on what you had done, before you received punishment for your actions. In saying that the majority of things my father told me growing up were untrue and Delusional, so I guess this probably was too.

I honestly can’t remember how old I was at the time, nine, maybe ten, I couldn’t have been much older than that; otherwise my memory would serve me better! The day came when the “slipper” just didn’t quench his thirst for violence anymore and he wanted to re-enact this song in real life. I can’t remember what I did, but hey, I was nine or ten years old, so I couldn’t have been anything that bad. With joy in his heart, he sent me out to our back garden to fetch a lickin’ stick, from the willow tree.

We had a rather large weeping willow tree in the garden. It was the most wonderful tree. I have fond memories or sitting under it as a child and reading the popular Goosebumps series of book on my six week school summer holidays. Although beautiful it had unfortunately long, thin, branches particularly good for whipping!

I reluctantly broke one off, and started stripping off the leaves, occasionally looking back to see my father’s dark figure standing, waiting for my return by the back door. Of course I took my time, wouldn’t you! I still to this day remember the fear in my heart, walking back, an overwhelming panic overtook me, waiting for someone to step in and put a stop to this madness… but that rarely ever happened.


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