David Lodge’s Deaf Sentence

This post is based on reviews of a new novel by David Lodge called Deaf Sentence (published in May, 2008), which features one of the oldest but best spanking clichés in the book – aging English professor meets brattish American student!

ds 01Desmond Bates is the head of the Linguistics Department at a provincial university in England. He reminds his friends of Eeyore: a gloomy, depressed old donkey, pessimistic and, above all, deaf. His poor hearing has made it impossible for him to hear his mumbling students. Early retirement looms while his domineering wife forges ahead with a successful business career.

When we meet Des, he is looking down the blouse of comely young student, Alex Loom. She is a glamorous American postgraduate, with streaming blonde hair, who is writing a thesis about the linguistic patterns in suicide notes!

Alex is ambitious but has a kittenish demeanour and always wears provocative low-cut tops. She also happens to like committing indiscretions that might earn her a spanking from her male aquaintances!

Alex becomes ever more obsessed with obtaining Des’ approval and help with her studies. She gets hold of his phone number and he receives a completely unexpected and disturbing call. She says she wants him to personally supervise her thesis.

Against his better judgment, he agrees to a private meeting with her. We understand, this will not amuse his dauntingly competent wife, Winifred, or “Fred.”

He visits Alex’s apartment and takes her a faculty library book to use in her thesis. Big mistake! This is Alex’s chance to ensnare the professor in one of her little games! She deliberately defaces the book with a highlighter pen before returning it.

Des realises she is responsible for defacing the book and decides to cut off all communication with her by not answering her calls.

So Alex writes a letter, expressing her apologies…and begging for punishment:

Come to Wharfside Court at exactly three o’clock and ring my bell three times. You’ll find the door of my apartment unlatched. A red bulb will light the living room. You’ll see me bent over the table, with my head on a cushion. I’ll be naked from the waist down. Come up behind me and position yourself to spank my butt. Use just the flat of your hand, but no stick or other implement, but hit me as hard as you like. do not stop even if I cry out.

“This,” Alex’s letter concludes, “is good.”

Although Des makes clear moral distinctions, his life well-ordered and constricted by his marriage to Fred, he does have a darker side. Alex seems to arouse a fantasy lurking unsuspected and only waiting to be released…

Ultimately however he doesn’t go to give her the spanking.

But Alex then turns her attention to to the university English lecturer…who is not quite so honourable as Des.


Several of David Lodge’s novels — in particular Small World, and Nice Work — have been adapted into television series. Could Deaf Sentence be next?

If so, will we see Des actually spanking Alex – perhaps as part of a fantasy sequence? Or will the English lecturer be shown dealing with her in the way that Des wouldn’t?

Either way, in the current post-Secretary/Weeds climate surely TV and film producers will be falling over themselves to put this one on the screen.

And who should play naughty Alex?

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6 thoughts on “David Lodge’s Deaf Sentence”

  1. This book sounds just perfect for a TV adaptation – i don’t think they would actually show any spanking scenes though – there would be a teaser in the trailers leading up the start date but I’m still not sure they’re brave enough to show anything unless it’s airing past about 10.30 (like the excellent sugar rush) suspect this story would be in the prime time 9 o’clock slot
    The scenario reminds me of a play called “lost property” staring John Duttine and Miranda Richardson in a saturday night drama around 1986, about a couple who buy an old school to live in. Miranda richardson’s character goes a bit loopy and starts to think she is the headmistress of the school. While searching around in the loft she finds the old school cane and starts to march around swishing it about and ordering her husband around. eventually he snaps and in the cloakroom he ties her wrists to the coat pegs and picks up the cane threatening to use it on her backside. She continues to goad him and it gets even better – he pulls her skirt down saying that he doesn’t want to make it too easy for her. Still she goads him saying ‘go on do it!’. he draws the cane back and with the superb target of miranda’s bum completely at his mercy … he then throws the cane down and storms off, badly letting down the watching 6 million viewers (well me anyway!). Never seen this drama repeated but someone might have it on video somewhere and it might crop up one day, hope so.

  2. You’re right Marty. They would probably use the mention of some spanking as a teaser, but then not show anything 😦

    BUT then again…

    There hasn’t been a British TV spanking since Sugar Rush. The US, on the other hand, has had recent scenes in Scrubs/Weeds/Californication – all mainstream prime time shows.

    I was thinking that we could get something similar here, now that the precedent has been set.

    Lost Property sounds awesome! Thanks for telling us about it. I love the idea of a couple moving into an old schoolhouse and finding the school cane in the loft. What a great storyline.

    Always thought Miranda Richardson could do with a good dose of the cane too. Was her bottom bare in this scene?

    “someone might have it on video somewhere and it might crop up one day, hope so.”

    I hope so too. I’d love to see this.

  3. Hi Valdor

    hope you’re are right regarding deaf sentence – searched a few reviews of the book and there was a reference that the professor had fantasied about spanking – which i think you were alluding to in the main piece. So any script writer worth his soul surely should try and include Des having a ‘dream sequence’ with the lovely Alex being suitably chastised!

    You’re right about the US leading the way in mainstream TV spanking – the Weeds scene was brilliant especially as they followed up with the woman in her bedroom proudly examining her red behind in the mirror! Shades of the much more serious film Love Crimes which when first shown on British TV cut the spanking scene out completely! Another good effort from the states is from a series called ‘Dirt’ starring Courteney Cox – in this, a character called “milan’ (based on paris hilton) receives a public bare bottom caning in a far east country (unfortunately her bottom was pixelated but the scene was very authentically played out).

    Lost property was part of a series of plays aired on saturday night collectively called “Unnatural Causes” perhaps they will get a run out on UK Gold or ITV 4, somewhere were they show old shows – hope so. sadly miranda’s bottom was not bare – when he took her skirt down she was wearing a slip. She of course played the nutty queen in blackadder who was frequently being threatened with a spanking from ‘nursey’ her governess – one of the most bizarre threats was ‘you behave my girl or mr and mrs spank will take a trip to botty land’.

    Have to say wouldn’t mind seeing miranda’a botty land getting warmed up even now she is still very attractive

  4. A first class comment Marty,

    There’s really not much more I can add (you’ve said it all!) except to say thanks for contributing so much to this post and I hope you will drop by again before long


    P.S. “Miranda’s botty land!!” LOL 🙂

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