The Monks Who Stole My Childhood

By Stephen Bleach
Sunday Times
December 10, 2017

Illustration By James Cowen

Four decades on I can still remember his hand on my backside. It didn’t bother me much at the time: I was too scared of what was coming next. If you haven’t been beaten with a cane by somebody who really enjoys doing it, it’s hard to describe how much it hurts.

Afterwards I straightened up, tearful and shaky. The man stood in his black Benedictine monk’s robes, cane still in hand, a kindly, almost embarrassed expression on his face. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” he said. Whether he meant the caning or his furtive, five-second grope as I bent over his office chair, I couldn’t tell. After all, I was only 13.

That man was Andrew Soper, although I knew him by his…








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