On this day in 1981, the Broken Pencils gang led by Arthur Dullan overthrew the St. Michael’s School Council headed by Edward Harrison.
Events Leading To The Coup
The Broken Pencils gang, was originally founded by the thirteen-year-old Dullan in 1979 as a cheat sheet and candy market ring operating in St. Michael’s School in Enfield. However, after Harrison, the sixteen-year-old head of the school council signed the Extra-Curricular Act of 1980, the group dedicated itself to vigilante action.
Extra-Curricular Act of 1980
Signed on the 18th of February, 1980, the details of the act were, in summary, handing over complete control over the funding and approval of student clubs. This led to the near-immediate closure of all six after-school clubs within the year. This included the Football Club, the Book Club (used by Dulan’s gang as a comic book smuggling base), and the Art Club. With their funds diverted, these clubs were quickly replaced by the Polo Club and the Fox Hunting Club, which were used with glee by the fifteen members of the school council. But this left the remaining one hundred and fifty students without a club in which they could recover from the tortures of education and be with their friends.
Whilst the exact events vary based on the claims of the now grown-up former students of St. Michael’s, each has the same constant of one of the former club leaders (each vouch for their own) having approached Dullan with a peace offering to persuade him to lend a hand in getting back their clubs. The former members of the Art Club claim that they gave him a set of spray cans, whilst those who were in the Book Club say that they gave him a valuable stack of vintage comics.
However, Richard Beverton, a former history teacher at St. Michael’s, claims that Dullan didn’t need to be persuaded to take action, as the closure of the clubs meant an end to his illicit enterprises.
“He told his thugs to tell the former club members that such an offering as needed, whilst in reality, he simply wanted something extra out of all of this.”
Classroom Guerrilla Warfare
Once agreements were made, the Broken Pencils gang, alongside the newly formed St. Michael’s Liberation Front (A revolutionary group made up of former club members), organized a series of psychological operations using guerrilla tactics otherwise known as “pranks” upon the members of the school council. The aim of this was to put the school council in a weakened state so that they could be susceptible to a final major strike that would leave them vulnerable to a full-on coup by the Broken Pencils and SMLF.
Many pranks were done over the year of 1980 in St. Michael’s against the School Council. Far too many to list here, the most notable were:
– Unscrewing and loosening the parts of their polo equipment, causing it to fall apart on the field.
– Filling their hunting boots with mud and other unpleasantries.
– Placing a set of paint-filled balloons inside the podium during an assembly where Harrison was meant to give a speech. As he stood behind the podium, he triggered a weight mechanism under his feet which caused the balloons to burst, covering Harrison in an array of bright colors, much to the chagrin of the onlookers.
The school council, whilst more weary and cautious to any unusual activities throughout the school as the year went on, were noticeably drained and at wit’s end. One famous example was how one morning in October of 1980, Harrison turned up to school with his uniform on backward. After being scolded by the teacher, he quickly fixed his clothing. It was not until the end of the day he realized that he was wearing it inside-out as well.
Day of The Coup
It was on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the act that the group staged their attack. As a precaution, the SMLF had their stealth insurgents replace the teacher’s coffee with decaf the day before, rendering them immobile for the rest of the morning. It was 8:45 AM and all fifteen members of the school council were in classroom B1 holding a meeting. All thirty-three members of The broken pencils gang, armed with water guns and flour grenades, were spilt up into separate locations around the room, with half gathered around the windows outside and the rest positioned around the two doors outside the corridor, where Dullan was stationed. Dullan gave the signal, and the gang immediately rushed in through the doors and through the opened windows. They used the mist created by the flour grenades as a cover whilst they subdued any resisting members with their water guns. Having barricaded themselves in the classroom and restrained the school council members with their own ties, Dullan made his way through the air vents and onto the roof. The students and some semi-conscious teachers gathered around the playground to see him. Headmistress Elizabeth Longbottom, having been awoken from her caffeine-depletion-induced slumber, stormed onto the playground to see what was going on.
Dullan, wearing a cardboard Sutton Hoo helmet and red cape taken from the dusty boxes of the long-defunct Drama Club, delivered a speech in which he expressed his disgust at the School Council’s listed his demands for the clubs to be reinstated.
The following are excerpts from his speech.
“In the days before, I was not but a common thug, exploiting the cracks and faults of a broken system. But in the past year I saw throughout the classrooms and corridors, kids without a purpose, the shrines of their passions taken away, forced to lumber about the dark tunnels of St. Michael’s facing the burden of homework and the anxiety of the future alone.”
“But least the threat of borough-wide revolution manifest, I implore you down there, give these kids back their purpose! For it is the comradery they from in these clubs that will lead them to the future, and not the memorization in your classes!”
Longbottom, simply wanting this year-long fiasco to end, along with the rest of the teachers wanting their coffee back, agreed to his demands.
The End of The Coup
Harrison overturned the Extra-Curricular Act of 1980 and was allowed to remain in power under the condition that future acts could not be passed without a majority vote from all the students. Dullan graduated in 1986 and was never heard from again.
To this day the actions of Arthur Dullan, The Broken Pencils, and the SMFL inspire the hearts of students throughout the UK to stand up against classroom tyranny and school council corruption.