From the autumn of 1959 to January 1977 Mary lived in South Holmwood, a pretty little village just outside the market town of Dorking, in Surrey. Throughout the 1960s Mary became an instantly recognisable face, and figure, around town. This beautiful, petite blonde was often seen wiggling through Dorking in a mini-skirt, attracting stares and wolf-whistles from the locals. Mary was well aware of the effect she had on strangers, particularly men, and knew exactly how to use her burgeoning sexuality for her own advantage. She had posed for her husband Bob’s camera on many occasions and initially had ideas of becoming a fashion model. Her tiny 4’11” frame put paid to those dreams, but throughout her short life Mary still loved dressing up. She had a variety of less-than-glamorous jobs including a telephonist, a shop worker at Stone & Turner the ironmongers, and a barmaid at the now-defunct Evening Star pub, in Mill Lane. But then, on 6th September 1969, she started work in a ladies’ fashion boutique, named Gemini, located at 148 High Street, Dorking. ‘The boutique was a really swish place with thick-pile carpets, soft lighting, music, chrome fittings, and very beautiful, very expensive clothes,’ remembered Mary in 1978. ‘It looked more like a Bond Street establishment than a shop out in the sticks.’
Above: Mary, at the ‘Miss Dorking’ pageant, third from left.
Mary recalled that one of her customers was a French lady, named Danielle, with whom she had her first lesbian experience in the changing room. However, it wasn’t just women who called in for fashion advice. Male drinkers from the White Horse pub next door regularly popped round to chat and flirt with the town’s sexiest shop girl. Incredibly, Mary was plagued by insecurities regarding her body; she felt her breasts were too small and hated her teeth and the shape of her nose (the latter two were corrected cosmetically in 1974/1975). Despite her lack of body confidence, Mary was encouraged to enter the Miss Dorking beauty pageant, sponsored by a local newspaper. Resplendent in a tiny blue and white bikini, her blonde locks cascading down her pretty face, Mary looked like the favourite to win. Amazingly, she didn’t. Depending on which account you read she was either placed third, fourth, or even last. When you look at the photograph of the competition now, you wonder how on earth the best-looking girl in town didn’t walk off with the crown. The contest was Mary’s first public foray into the world of glamour, but, unbeknown to everybody in 1969, greater notoriety was just around the corner for Dorking’s most daring daughter.