Feature

The League of Blondes

For legal reasons I’ve had to change some of the names and places in this story, but the rest, as far as I know, is a true and very strange account.

In July 1977, a 45-year-old out of work actor named Mark Pritchard bumped into an old friend named Clive Scott in the Bowring Park pub, Court Hey. During the conversation over a pint, Mark told his friend that work had dried up and that he was even prepared to have a go at window cleaning when Clive said: “Well, if you’re serious, I’ve got a set of old ladders in my garden shed you can have.”

“You’re on,” Mark told Clive and accompanied him to his house on Huyton’s Mayfair Avenue.

The shed had been broken into and the ladders and most of the garden tools had been stolen, but Mark calmed his friend down and pitched an idea to him.

“I’ll pay rent on your shed – a tenner a week.”

“‘You want to live in my shed?” a bewildered Clive asked.

“Not live – work”. Mark replied, his eyes scanning the interior of the large green shed.

“I’m going to make chairs, you know, carpentry and all that. Here’s the deposit.” He gave Clive a tenner.

“My Karen won’t like it” - Clive began to say, but Mark smiled and nodded and said: “She’ll be alright.”

Well, Mark tapped into someone’s electricity supply – possibly from a lamp post, and he also tapped the cable running to a public telephone box.

He fitted a neon light to the ceiling of the hut and upon an old green baize card table he placed an old telephone he’d acquired from someone.

Then Mark visited the local church hall where a duplicating machine could be hired for 50p an hour and he produced hundreds of sheets advertising his ‘new company’ Pritchard Investigations – yes, Mark had set himself up as a private investigator; £10 a day plus expenses.

Those sheets went everywhere: the windows of filling stations, post offices, libraries, social club and supermarket bulletin boards and so on, but Mark Pritchard had to answer the phone right away if it rang – because it would also be ringing in the local public phone box!

He got two cases in one day – a woman who suspected that her poodle had been kidnapped and the manager of a supermarket who believed a staff member was stealing boxes of frozen foods.

Both cases were satisfactorily solved within a week, despite Karen Scott threatening to evict Mark. He bought Karen a bouquet of roses and a box of Matchmakers and she left him alone.

Then came the strange case; a rich 50-year-old company director named Roland Olliston said a person or persons unknown were out to kill him.

They’d tampered with the brakes of his Mercedes, made silent calls to him and his wife in the dead of night, and on one occasion he’d been sent a doll that contained an incendiary device which had destroyed his living room.

On Valentine’s Day seven months ago, Roland had received a card saying he’d been targeted by ‘The League of Blondes’ but had thrown the card away, thinking someone was just playing a silly prank.

Mark said he’d visit Roland for more information but the promising client insisted on visiting Mark, and he was very surprised to see that the office was a garden shed. Mark had to say his usual office was being refurbished.

There were obvious questions to be asked. “Mr Olliston, do you know of any former female employees – any previous old flame for that matter – who might be behind these attempts on your life?” Mark enquired.

“I’m a one-woman man, Pritchard – I don’t have affairs, and all of my previous secretaries have left the firm under amicable conditions.

“But of course, some secretaries did make passes, but I made it clear I wasn’t interested and I even had a photograph of my wife on the desk.

“Whoever it is,” said Mark, “they seem very determined to cause harm – fixing brakes, sending fire-bombs to you; call me sexist but I don’t associate all that with a woman.”

“Don’t underestimate a woman scorned, Pritchard,” said Roland, lighting a cigarette. “Who on earth is this League of Blondes? I need you to find out. A thousand for you if you do.”

Mark worked overtime on this one, and he traced previous secretaries who had worked for Olliston – and noted they were all blonde. Then Mark started to receive warnings from a woman over the phone.

This woman said that Roland Olliston was getting his just desserts.

Karen Scott, the wife of Mark’s friend Clive, began to have terrible nightmares about women dressed in black who warned her to have nothing to do with Mark Pritchard.

Still, Mark delved into the case, and he suspected that witchcraft was being used against him and his client.

Then Roland’s wife visited Mark and told him to drop the case. She said that she’d hired a private eye to look into the matter and he had discovered the sordid truth.

Her husband had a habit of hiring young blonde secretaries, and then he’d wine and dine them, take them to a hotel, where they’d book in as a married couple.

Once Roland had his way with the secretary, he’d fire her – and move on to the next victim.

He often compared these young women to cars and joked about getting a new model once he’d had enough of the last one.

According to Mrs Olliston, Roland could not accept ageing and had to periodically prove to himself that he could still pull “dolly birds”.

One secretary he had dumped had committed suicide because she had loved Roland, but he hadn’t shown an iota of concern at her death.

One of the ‘conquests’ was an accomplished witch, and she had formed a coven made up from the discarded secretaries and taught them potent black magic.  

And the League of Blondes was born.

So, Mark abandoned the case, and a month later he read in the papers about the curious death of Roland Olliston.

He had been found dead from heart failure under a hedge in his garden, his eyes bulging in terror at something...

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