The dog grooming obviously provided a substantial portion of the income into the house and was essential to keep things going. Even though Bridget and I would be forced to help with the bathing and drying of the dogs, a lot of the work, and all of the the skill, was down to my second eldest sibling, Lily.
I don’t know that there was ever any proper arrangement regarding payment or wages of any kind, or whether Sylvie ever gave Lily any amounts of cash. Lily didn’t pay any board money, rightly so, given the amount of money bought in from the dog grooming.
Sylvie must have supplemented things in some ways, as Lily always had nice things. She dressed nicely, in fashionable clothes, had lovely shoes and handbags, and the latest expensive perfumes such as Dior, Rive Gauche and Chanel. I am guessing that these were a sort of ‘payment in kind.’
Apart from the short time working in a pet shop after leaving school, Lily had never really gone out to work and was quiet and shy, very much the opposite to Sylvie and her older sister Gina.
Sylvie always put Lily’s quieter ways down to her not getting a chance to speak when she was little. She said that Lily would not get the chance to open her mouth, as Gina always spoke for her. If Sylvie asked Lily if she wanted a biscuit, before she could open her mouth, Gina would pipe up, “Of course she does, what are you asking her for?” It was Gina who would declare, “Mum, Lily wants a drink,” or “Mum, Lily needs the toilet,” regardless of whether she did or not.
For a long time, working at home and grooming the dogs had suited her, saved her from having to go out to find work, hampered by her lack of confidence. Now in her early twenties and still at home grooming the dogs, Lily was immensely attractive and very slim with long brown hair.
At this point, there must have been something that ignited a spark, that was to detonate something within Lily. She had started working a few nights a week, in nightclubs in the town, working as a barmaid. It gave her some independence, her own money, some freedom, friends, and a social life.
From this time, Lily was to date a string of men of various ages and statuses, and so started to live something of her own life. Some of the men were single, some were married, many were ordinary and working class, others were very well off, driving expensive cars such as a Lotus or a Rolls Royce. Regardless, Lily always dressed up to meet them. I would sit and watch her preparing for her evenings out and be spellbound by the glamour of it all.
She would curl her long hair into the heated rollers everyone used at that time, and whilst these were setting her hair into soft curls, she would apply her make-up and put on her chosen outfit for the evening. She dressed tastefully in the latest fashions of the time and being so slim, she could carry off anything beautifully.
Once dressed, she would unpin the now cold rollers, and her long brown hair would tumble down in large, soft curls past her shoulders. After a quick spray or dab with one of her heavenly perfumes, she would be off, gliding out of the door until the early hours of the morning.