John Paddy Carstair’s Nicer to Stay In Bed

A Favourite From the Library of Murray Roberts:

John Paddy Carstairs was a comic novelist and film scriptwriter of the 1940s/50s. According to Murray, he was one of those puzzling and irritating authors who produced one good spanking scene and then no more – ever.

His style reminds me a bit of P.G. Wodehouse who’s most famous character Jeeves the butler would have been ideally suited to administer a sound piece of attitude adjustment – with a Mason Pierson hairbrush perhaps. In Carstair’s novel, it’s the equally upright and no-nonsense figure of senior surgeon Nick Carlton who does get to wield a brush – across the “twin half-moons” of famous Hollywood star Lutina Bell!

The plot has a surprisingly modern feel to it as Lutina is in a private English clinic for what would be described nowadays as “rehab.” When she is caught drunk with a half-empty bottle of brandy, she decides (ironically, in view of the book’s title) that she wants OUT, but “Old Nick” has other ideas….

It’s tempting to speculate which star inspired the character of Lutina. I don’t recall ever reading a scene which makes quite so much of the shock and outrage felt by the spankee. Wonderful stuff!!

Readers might find themselves indentifying with the character of Duffy who plays the role of voyeur listening outside the door and counting the smacks. It’s not explained why he enters the room in the immediate aftermath of the spanking. Was he hoping for a glimpse of rosy red flesh?

And did he get it?

JPC5

“I’m sorry to have to contradict Miss Bell again, but I can only repeat,” said Margie, in a quiet tone which contrasted with Lutina’s high-pitched voice of rage. “I found Miss Bell with a half-finished bottle of brandy – I had no idea where she got it.”

“I paid you twenty bucks for it, you dirty little double crossing…”

“She was, I regret to say, extremely drunk, and I took the bottle away” continued Margie.

“You had a snifter yourself, you scheming bitch!”

“And this morning, Mr Mahoon said that his dressing-room cupboard was open, his clothes were strewn about and some drink was missing.”

“Well, may I be flayed in oil! You are the dirtiest little two-timing rat I’ve ever met!” shouted Lutina “What sort of a frame-up is this? I’d have protected you – I wouldn’t have given you away you double crossing…

“Please, Miss Bell!”

“Don’t you ‘please’ me!” screamed Lutina. “I don’t give a goddam who hears – I didn’t travel six thousand miles to be put in a hospital. I’ve got a contract to make pictures, not sit on my fanny in some lousy English hospital – now gimme my clothes an’ let me get out of here!”

The noise Lutina was making could be heard quite distinctly down the passage. Duffy, who had been reading, quickly got out of bed and, sensing a story, quickly got out of his bed, and padded out into the corridor in his bare feet. Outside Number Two room all the day staff were congregated in listening attitudes around the door. From within there came the sound of an irate female voice, a voice that was fierce, assertive, harsh and certainly American.

“I said gimme my clothes or I’ll scream the goddam hospital down!” threatened the voice.

Duffy’s eyebrows rose towards the bald space where his hair should be; he was about to ask the nurses for some information when, from behind him, striding at a fast pace, came Nick Carlton. It was obvious he was in no mood for passing the time of day, so when he suggested abruptly, “Mr Duffield, I suggest that you should be in bed”, Duffy meekly agreed and pretended to return until Old Nick had actually entered Room Two.

“What seems to be the trouble?” Old Nick asked looking pointedly at Lutina, his nose creases dark and powerful as he concentrated his strong perusal on the famous star.

“What seems to be the trouble!” mimicked Lutina. “Get him! Lissen you – I’ll repeat this for your benefit, whoever you are, an’ after that the hell with it – I am a lil’ drunk and I don’t give a dam’ and I am leaving this hospital…”

“Oh no, you’re not!”

The reply was so swift and so unexpected that it stopped Lutina dead in the middle of her sentence.

“Wassat?”

“I said you were not!” repeated Old Nick. Sister looked at Margie Trimmins knowingly. Old Nick was going to deal with Lutina.

“Oh, a wise guy, huh!” sneered Lutina. “Now lissen, Handsome, you just stick to your bottles of medicine and I’ll stick to my bottles of rye an’ we’ll get along great. An’ now, if someone will get my clothes, I’ll get out-a here.”

“I said you will not be leaving yet!” Old Nick repeated.

Lutina looked at him. So this was a challenge, was it? Ok Lutina liked challenges. “We’ll see,” she said. “I am going to scream and I’m going to keep on screaming until my clothes are brought here.”

And, suiting the action to the words, she opened the throat that had launched a thousand theme songs, and yelled lustily….The noise set the old Jewish woman, who was convalescing, back at least a week, and awoke Mr. Gidney, who had dozed off to sleep again, in the next room. Nor did just one frightening bellow emanate from the Bell larynx, but a long. continuous series of blood-curdling yells. Above the noise, Nick Carton’s voice was heard authoritatively saying:

“Leave me alone with Miss Bell, please!” Whereupon the cortege turned and made an attempt at a dignified exit, and the day nurses outside the door looked extremely foolish when it opened and they were discovered there.

Nick Carlton waited until the door closed. Eyeing him, Lutina continued to scream. To her surprise, Nick turned to the dressing table and picked up one of her platinum and gold-backed hair brushes. “If he uses my brush with that goo on his hair I’ll throw something at him! she thought. But, instead, with a cool determined tread, Nick, the hair brush in his right hand, walked over to the bed. “You’ve asked for this!” he said.

Whereupon, to the utter astonishment of Lutina Bell, film star, he suddenly pulled her roughly by the arm towards him. then, sitting down on the bed in a moment he had laid her across his knees and with her own hair brush promptly began to smack her backside as if she were a small child.

The screaming which had stopped as soon as Latina found herself in an attitude of complete embarrassment, gave way, for a brief moment to a shout – a plea for help. The various patients who were listening gasped with apprehension, as they set mental pictures to the sound-track they could hear. Then, as the first blow descended there was silence – save for the sound of metal on nude flesh – smack! smack! smack!

Later, in thinking it over, Latina recalled that she had read about people being struck dumb with astonishment, and then it had happened to her – it actually had!

When she realized that Nick Carlton was going to smack her, she shouted in the hope that someone would rush in and throw this Violator of sacred persons, this Assaulter of women, out of the hospital window. When she found herself across his knees and realized just how this tyrant proposed to chastise her, she stopped shouting, in amazement. When she realized, further, that her elegant forty-dollar nightdress had caught up, in the sudden jerk across the doctor’s knees, exposing twin half-moons that comprised the Bell posterior, she crimsoned in fury.

When the first smack descended, she was numbed into silence. The horror of the situation, the embarrassment! There was she, one of the greatest film stars in Hollywood, – in the world – having her bottom smacked just like Dad used to smack it years ago when she was a little girl in Minneapolis. The humiliation! It couldn’t be happening, it couldn’t. She’d got the heebie-jeebies, she was going nuts; the drink had finally caught up with her. Yet, if she was asleep, that wallop she was getting on the receiving end would surely have awakened her, and – ouch! Hell’s bells, that was no dream.

The crazy arrogant sonofagun was walloping hell out of her – lamming into Lutina Bell, the Lutina Bell -exactly as if – as if she were ten-year-old Mabel Beets! She couldn’t believe it; she wanted to cry with shame and mortification and hurt and fury, and yet, while all those thoughts were surging through her mind, and she was feeling pain and anger and pique, a greater force, a greater power, was stunning it all with the realization that here, at long last was a man who was able to stop all the nonsense, all the wretched Lutina Bell wiles – a man who had succeeded where men, all men had failed throughout the years. It made you gasp. That’s all – for the moment. Not a tear, not a shout, not a whimper, but a gasp. This was happening to me, Lutina Bell, film star! I am being spanked because I’ve been a naughty girl…

“There Miss Bell. That’s all for this morning. We’ll send your breakfast up,” she heard him saying, just as if he had diagnosed a sore throat. Matter-of-fact, impersonal, austere and without a tinge of irony. The goddam nerve of the guy! “That’s all for this morning!” – as if she could expect the same thing again after lunch!

What did one do when someone completely and deniably disarmed one? What could one do under such circumstances but lie on one’s stomach and blush into the pillow and gulp and swallow and relive those incredible few moments! An unknown man; tall, distinguished – the type Hollywood cast as a Doctor, walks calmly into a room where she’s giving an exclusive and scared audience one of her best tantrum scenes, and solemnly proceeds to paddle the tar out of you – yep, to me! To Lutina Bell, the absolute incredulity of it…Well, may I be flayed in oil!…

At the other end of the corridor, Duffy peered round cautiously and ducked back as Nick Carlton left Room Two and made his way down the corridor towards Sister’s room. Duffy, who had counted the smacks and showed surprise on his pleasant fat face, blew out his cheeks – a habit he had when he was putting two and two together – then, his mind made up, he started down the corridor towards Room Two. Reaching it without being discovered, he paused, made up his mind and, banging on the door, opening it before anyone inside could answer “Come in” (or “Stay out”) he entered. A hot faced, wild-eyed young beauty raised her head from her pillow and glared. “Scram!” she said, as if her breath was vitriolic. Duffy scrammed.

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4 thoughts on “John Paddy Carstair’s Nicer to Stay In Bed”

  1. How many readers picked up on the `in` gag of the heroine`s name? Lutina Bell, is so close to the warning in the Stock Exchange,( with which I am unfamiliar,) where the ringing of the Lutine Bell is preceding an announcement of a maritime disaster. from memory; though that goes back some way. Only Ms Bell would cnsider her treatment a disaster.?

  2. I hadn’t thought of that Dr Ken. Right era I think and Lucille Ball DID get more than her fair share of spankings so maybe you’re onto something.

    Marilyn Monroe was my first thought. I think it was the mention of her non-screen name and humble upbringing that made me think of her.

    Mabel Beets = Norma Jean….hmmm….perhaps not! 🙂

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