Note Passing

Coming to Hot Key Books in 2013…

The Saga of Reneé  and Flo: Part One By Dawn Porter

Charting the charged friendship between best friends Reneé and Flo – two Guernsey schoolgirls against the world.


I’ve been in talks with Dawn about the content of her new novels for a while now. While she has lots of anecdotes from her own adolescence that will go into this novel, she is really interested in what you, the millions of ex – or current – adolescents out there, have to say on certain universal activities that go on during that time.

No 1: Note passing

If you have a funny or tragic, even painful story to tell about a note passing incident that went horribly wrong….or even resulted in something brilliant, then tell us!  IT COULD END UP IN THE BOOK!

(One that won’t get in is Kate’s – mainly about Mrs Riordan shouting at the class that she was utterly disgusted that they couldn’t pass a note round without her seeing, and that in her day they’d passed a bin from one end of the classroom to the other without being seen…)

So, for the next week, tweet @hotkeybooks using #mrsriordan or post a comment on this blog and Dawn will pick her favourites!



42 responses to “Note Passing

  1. Haha yes.

    Once my teacher came to school on what can only be described as a safari suit. Well we were laughing so bad in class and hot told to stop laughing so we decided to start passing notes about. Making reference to it and saying he looked like something out of Indiana Jones. We obviously got caught and he did not take it lightly and we were punished.

    This happened in year 7 when I left school 5 years later I asked the teacher to sign my leaving book. He actually commented on the bloody safari suit! I couldn’t believe it. 5 years later. He must have been so traumatised. Lol

  2. Haha, great one! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I got together with the first love of my life by passing notes, I was about 14 and this boy I liked started passing me notes, just funny little comments on what was going on around us in lessons or what we were supposed to be learning. It went on for about a week, throughout the different lessons were we in together and then on the Monday of the next week he sent me a note asking if he could be my boyfriend! I still have a collection of the notes that I came across when moving the last of my things from my parents house to my house and it make me smile a lot and we never got caught!

  4. I got a job in the deli of our local supermarket when I was 15. One Saturday my maths teacher, Mr Howat, came to my counter and bought some cold meat. He was with his elderly mother and I thought it was hilarious to see my teacher outwith school and in my shop. His nickname was Watty Howat and he had big big hair, and during his maths class on the Monday, I drew a little picture of him and underneath it wrote ‘Watty Howat – his hair is a mess, Watty Howat – he buys turkey breast’ and I paper aeroplaned it over to my best pal. But it was Mr Howat who caught the note, and he made me stay behind after class and told me he was going to phone the manager of the supermarket and have me disciplined for breach of customer confidentiality. I was worried sick for weeks…

  5. I’m not sure if this actually happened at my school but surely the most embarrasing one would be to pass a note about the boy you fancy and have the teacher read it out to everyone?! I’d have died!

  6. I once was writing notes during maths class lamenting on my dads tightwad nature as he would not buy me new trainers. Later when I asked him to help with my maths homework he found it. He looked so hurt! I was so ashamed I ripped the note from his hand and ate it

  7. @Jodie – wow, so sweet!
    @Marri – ‘breach of customer confidentiality’, brilliant!
    @Victoria – happens at every school, classic…
    @Sara – ah, your poor, poor Dad 🙂

  8. When I was in secondary school, I became infatuated with a girl in my class. I wasn’t a talker and was something of an introvert, so decided to send her a note declaring my unending love.

    Sitting in front of the TV that night, I set about composing this note. I struggled at first, unsure of how to say what my hormone addled brain told me I was feeling. Then Britney Spears appeared on the television and an idea struck me – A song! I would take a song and insert my love’s name into it. It seemed utterly romantic.

    So that is what I did. I rewrote “Hit Me Baby One More Time” with the object of my affection’s name in place of “Baby”.

    The next day, inevitably, my note was intercepted by the teacher. Who decided that I should read it to the class. And then, noting that it was in the form of a song, further decided that I should sing it. To the class. Sing. It was horrifying.

    I’m 26 now and still can’t think of it without my cheeks burning and turning a vicious shade of beetroot red.

  9. When I was in Year 8 we had this awful substitute form tutor (our previous tutor was on leave and being investigated for apparently having a relationship with a sixth former!) who really annoyed me one day for some reason or another. So next lesson I decided to start a ‘petition to get Mrs Evans sacked’ in note form, which made it halfway around the class before our RE teacher intercepted it. She read it and decided it would have to be passed on to a ‘higher authority’ at which point some of the girls in my class began to panic. One distracted the teacher while the other nicked it out of her bag, and they went down to the loos to destroy the evidence!

    Some of the popular girls decided to grass us up and we all had to stand in line while the deputy head shouted at us, we were petrified! We all got detentions, I had to go and talk to the deputy head, and the girls who stole the note got suspended! Needless to say we were a little more cautious with our note-passing after that!

  10. @Charles – Oh my god, horrifying indeed!

    @Nicole – Yikes! Can imagine the fear!

  11. Passing notes one day, my friends and I decided that our math teacher needed some excitement in his daily lessons. He was a veteran who was honorably discharged due to hearing loss that he came upon in the service, which is not amusing, I know. He tented to speak — rather scream — loudly when he was teaching, and despite his hearing aid, we needed to do the same when he asked us a question or if we had a question to ask him.

    On this one particular day, we passed notes to just about everyone in class, asking them to mouth words and sentences without actually talking. Everyone did, and as we were the last class of the day, our poor teacher thought that his hearing aid battery had died. He gave us seatwork, and sat at his desk taking the battery in and out, pausing to ask questions of various students. After getting answers that he could not hear (naturally), he would tinker with his hearing aid some more. I felt rather badly about this, but it was amusing to a group of bored teens at the time…

  12. It’s not about note passing, but definitely about getting ‘one-up’ on the teacher – Our chemistry teacher had gone out of the room, and one of the boys in the class had managed to get everyone to agree that when our teacher came back and started writing on the whiteboard we would all silently pick up our chairs and turn to face the back of the room. In the true spirit of student comradeship we all obliged and our teacher was met with a sea of backs. All our teacher could say was ‘haha, very funny.’ We thought it was hilarious.

  13. I noticed my friend was signalling me from across the room one day. I looked over to see she was trying to tell me, via her special sort of sign language, that our other friend Jodie*, who she was sat next to, was smelling of B.O that day. Being the good friend that I am (and also trying to be a bit funny), I sent a note saying, ‘Jodie, you smell. Sort it out’. She received the note but didn’t see the funny side. I looked up to see my friend looking at me with a confused look on her face. It was only when we got outside the classroom I realised she was miming ‘Joel smells’…not Jodie. Joel was sat on the other side of my friend. Oops. I had to pay a visit to our head of year! I felt awful! I still feel bad now because I realise it was mean…but I thought I was helping a little bit! Don’t think I’m terrible please.

    Also, I had a teacher who would see boys sending notes to each other, take the note off them and read the note out loud. But he didn’t exactly write what was in the note. Instead he’d make up things like ‘Dear Scott, meet me by the cafe at 9, I can’t wait for our date. Kisses!! Shaun x’. They’d go red but never learnt, and our teacher never failed on making up hilarious/embarrassing ‘notes’.

  14. I can remember discussing the potential pregnancy of my stuck up German teacher (who once came into school wearing odd shoes beleive it or not!) with my best friend via notes in class! She realised .. Definitely one of those cringe worthy moments ..

  15. I was teacher and got caught with a note 😦
    I was about 25 and teaching at a local technical college. I was single and living on my own. A note arrived on my doormat one morning (not posted) saying how nice I seemed etc etc. I can’t remember how I knew; but I knew it was from a girl who stayed in the same street. Nothing wrong with her; just not my type. I composed a letter to send back (letting her down gently and all that) and stuck it in my briefcase and headed to work. I was not long in th e job and didn’t have a desk of my own. The technical staff shared a cramped office, so I dumped my briefcase on a communal patch and rifled through my stuff before heading off for my first class. I came back at break time to see a couple of fellow teachers hunched over the desk. Apparently my letter (which I hadn’t put in an envelope) had fallen out the case and was now being read by a couple of sniggering men. I felt like a d**k. 😦

  16. Helen Morecroft

    One Monday morning, during double maths, my best friend Kim slipped me a ‘funny’ note saying “you look very sleepy. Are you on Drugs?”…. It was intercepted…. I was hauled in front of the headmistress ( this was an all girls’ Grammar school . You can imagine the uproar) Parents called up, police involvement threatened… I never did escape 24 hour scrutiny after that. And for the record, I wasn’t even on Drugs. More than 30 years later the injustice still rankles….

  17. My friend and I used to pass rude notes about our teacher to each other in history. Of course, being the arrogant smart-ärse that he was, he found one on the floor one day and decided to read it out to the class. We should have been mortified only we couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily he missed the ‘very’ rude diagram we had drawn, as I had it safely hidden in my file.

  18. Helen (Twitter @HelenGreen1)

    I was always a very prolific note-passer during my school days. So much so I actually carried around up to seven exercise books at a time, each book for notes to and from a particular person. However, on this occasion it was a note gone rogue that was the problem!
    A friend and I started to pass a note between us until morphed into a commentary of our lesson. (Although we liked to think it was a very ‘comedic’ commentary – well as ‘comedic’ as two fourteen year old girls get!) By the end of the lesson we decided we would post the note to another friend who had recently moved away. Mainly so she wouldn’t feel that she had missed out on our scintillating science lesson and its banter!
    It was such a large note that when it was prised into an envelope it was fairly bulky. I jokingly drew a cartoon bomb on the back of the envelope complete with the words ‘THIS IS A BOMB!’….I also put (admittedly in smaller letters!) ‘Not really! It’s just a badly packaged letter from Helen & Katie’…..

    We popped the note in the post and thought no more of it. That is until we were hauled out of lessons into the head’s office a week or so later! She bellowed that she presumed we knew why we were there! And she was not amused when we looked bewildered and said we had no clue!
    It turns out that our note and its ill-advised envelope decoration had caused quite a stir at the post office and our local sorting office had been immediately evacuated! Whoops!
    They must have opened the envelope and used the info in it to trace us! The head threatened us with suspension but thankfully settled for a humble apology! I wasn’t sure what I was more mortified about – the fact that we’d caused the evacuation of the sorting office or that our head teacher had obviously read through the note we’d been passing between ourselves with all its ‘amusing commentary’!!
    (I must add that this was 20 years ago! So a marginally more innocent age!! Also apologies for the long post! You can see why I had to have exercise books for note passing!)

  19. Once, my friend and I spent most of a French lesson writing notes to each other about our new French teacher. We were not kind about her. At the end of the lesson, my friend tucked the notes into her French book. Which she later handed in to be marked, with the notes in it. We both got a detention during which we had to write a piece about why what we’d done was nasty and wrong. Looking back, I cringe about how horrible we’d been. For no reason!

  20. My story starts a long time after the note was actually passed. I went to boarding school and my mother picked me up early one Friday. My headmaster asked her into his office which I presumed was to remind her of the rule that you can’t pick up early; the study period is very important etc. Well not quite as it turns out. When we got homme my mum came into my room and handed me a note. She said ‘Do you recognise this?’. I didn’t, except hat it was in my handwriting. Then I realised what it was. The note read something like this; ‘Niamh I have something I really need to tell you. I’m gay and I think you should know now. I hope this doesn’t make uncomfortable but I like you.’ Now this note was a joke. A poor joke but one that had made us laugh at the time. So here was my mother months later with this note. It had been found in a classroom, unfolded, read by a teacher and taken as gospel. The head had called her in to discuss it. He also wanted a form tutor to have a chat with me. This wasn’t in a caring way, I think they wanted to talk the gay out of me. I told my mum it was a joke, she said ‘I know’. My friends had a good laugh but it was mortifying for me & mum, especially as the school were so ignorant.

  21. My classmates and I used a standard exercise book and passed it from desk to desk to gossip about each other, teachers, who we were crushing on, and everything else that latent adolescents pass notes about. We were SO SMUG about our clever idea to use an exercise book until it was dropped on the floor during journalling time one day and nobody claimed it, so the teacher locked it in his desk drawer. I had to engineer a strategic coffee spill when I went up for extra help, which saved us (that time!)

  22. @Sara YOU ATE IT?? Love Dawn x

  23. My best mate Carol and I passed notes on an epic scale, so much so that we started a note book and would continue conversations in different lessons we shared.
    During one prolonged period of angst during my teenage years I was madly in love with a lad who everyone else fancied and we would discuss how I was going to entrap him in pretty graphic detail (which compared to todays teens was pretty tame)
    Anyway we thought we were pretty clever with our notebook rather than slips of paper…that was until I left it at the end of another tedious History lesson!
    Teacher found it but I was blissfully unaware it was even missing, that was until someone told me that he had been reading to passages of it to his Modern History class, they didn’t know it was mine as he didn’t use names but it was pretty obvious to me and the lad who I had plotted to seduce that we were the two people he was referring to. The teacher in question knew it was mine but never actually mentioned it to me or offered to give it back!
    I stopped writing notes after that and my crush faded pretty damn fast, hes balding and fat now anyway!

  24. The old classic “mrs jones is a fat slag” mrs jones was our French teacher, quite nice, I was just bored & trying to be funny. She saw me pass the note & confiscated it, read it & I’m not sure who was more embarrassed. Felt very bad, was good reverse psychological punishment!

  25. I was about 15 and my friend Laura and I were in our least favourite lesson; history. We were hyper after lunch and watching a very depressing, boring educational video about Hitler. We started passing VERY immature and i’ll admit distasteful notes to each other saying I FANCY HITLER and HITLER IS MY HOMEBOY with lots of love hearts and illustrations. Our history teacher at that time also happened to be dating our head of year (they had been seen out of school together so didnt bother denying it) so we made embarassing comments on their relationship too in the note. Needless to say, our teacher confiscated the note, was disgusted at the content and ordered us to go to the head of year, note in hand, tails between our legs. We were disciplined for the Hitler content and mortified that the note was about her relationship with our teacher too. FYI; Hitler is NOT my homeboy.

  26. I decide between my worst note passing experiences but my two overall most embarrasing experiences with teachers at school.
    My best friend and I were waiting outside a classroom and we saw the most attractive male teacher (which meant very little, he was still not good looking) through the window in door. My friend and I had an ongoing debate on whether his hair was greasy or he just used too much gel. We were staring quite hard at him when he turned to look at us. My friend attempted to duck, but she was rather slow and he obviously saw her doing it. I had not ducked and was left standing there; the entire class turned to look at what he was looking at, which was me still staring at him, but now alone. I thought I was going to do of embarrasment.
    My second experience was with the same friend but a different teacher. My favourite teacher was our lovely geography teacher. However as a pair of teenage girls, we couldn’t help but say mean things! One day we were going on a field trip and so said teacher turned up in a polo shirt unlike his usual shirt and tie. The shirt had the top buttons undone and his ginger chest hair could be seen. After the trip my best friend and I were walking down a corridor in fits of giggles disgussing how icky his ginger chest hair was when my friend said “wouldn’t it be funny if he was right behind us” I turned around and he was literally a metre behind us. I felt terrible!

  27. I once wrote a note in primary school. It was the bog standard I like you, do you like me? Tick a box. I had written it out in my neatest handwriting and even used a ruler to draw the perfect little boxes. I had drawn on and coloured in a couple of red love hearts and folded it up tightly and neatly. All I had to do now was give it to him, but when? Play time of course that way I could give it to him with no one seeing so after dinner I went looking for him. When I found him I was sweating with fear and felt as sick as a pig but I had been in love with this boy since reception and I needed to know if he felt the same way too. I handed over the note and just stood there wondering why had I not given him a pen too? He look at the note then looked up at me and started ripping it up in front of me and then threw it on the floor and ran off. Not wanting anyone to know that I had declared my love for him I was litteraly left picking up the pices of my note and my broken heart.

  28. When I was in 7th grade, and my neighbor – Melissa – was in 8th grade we had the same science desk 3 class periods apart. We would leave notes towards the back of the inside of the desk for each other, and a lot of the time they talked about how cute Mr. Cooper (the teacher) was that day, or something funny he had said during our class, OR it would be about a boy we thought was super cute, also could have been about a girl we thought was absolutely bitchtastic. What we didn’t find out until the end of the year was that Mr. Cooper had been checking the desk after noticing our behavior, and reading the notes out loud to all the other classes. It was how he opened his other classes, “The Note of the Day.”

    Could. Have.Died.

  29. Note passing – the antidote to many boring lessons. I felt I had perfected the ways to do this without being caught. Amongst the techniques we had developed were the following. My best friend and I taught ourselves to write backwards, which meant that most unsuspecting teachers could not be arsed working it out (thinking about it why did they not just use a mirror?). My finest technique for actually passing was to scratch my foot, push the folded note into my shoe and then put my feet up on the back of the chair in front (containing friend) who could then casually reach behind her and grab note.

    I had a teacher called Sister Aileen, she was not a nun of the kind loving ‘how to you solve a problem like maria’ type. In fact we used to call her Aileen the Alien – how clever were we. Once just having got a new brace fitted when about 14 she pulled me up for ‘chewing gum’ as I was lisping, held her hand out in front of me and insisted that I ‘spit it out’ (on her hand, yuck) I protested but she just wouldn’t accept that it was a brace. Needless to say she did when it was on her hand…..

  30. I remember note passing in chemistry! The subject my ample breasted teacher, her black jumper and how every-time she wrote on the blackboard her chest COVERED in chalk dust!
    Ofcourse as a teenager this was rather hilarious and of course we were caught! I swear the poor woman never wore black again!

  31. Being rather pretentious at school, my friends and I used to write our notes in Latin, thinking that only our Latin teachers would be able to translate. Didn’t think that upon intercepting some of our notes about various teachers of a mainly derogatory nature, the teachers would just take the notes to the Classics department for translation…

    We were also obsessed with the computer game Lemmings, so most of our notes had explanatory guides on how to get past particularly tough levels. With diagrams of the level and lemmings.

  32. We had a teacher (nicknamed the crow due to her black clothes, jewellery, hair & soul) who said she could always sense when we were passing notes or doing anything fun when her back was turned – this led to the invention of:

    1) Blind Swearing – a nerve-racking game that meant those playing it had to close their eyes then hold up to fingers in the direction of the crow, with the first person counting to one, then those after having to take it in turns and counting a number higher each time until eventually you were caught and thrown out of the classroom.

    2) Book Notes – where notes were written into whatever text book was being used and then swapped between people, so that you could say the person had dropped their book and you were passing it back if caught. The note would never be written on the page being used in the class, as this was too easy to detect, and so would be written on a random page number which the note passer would have to indicate by holding that number of fingers up after the book had been passed. The notes were usually written in pencil so they could be easily destroyed once read, but did in one instance lead to a bible having “Always nice to meet a fan, love and kisses God” written on the inside of the front cover in a pink glitter pen.

  33. We’re blown away with the response to this – thanks everyone for posting, they are really making us laugh in the office!!

  34. While in Year 11, my friend and I decided to pen a raunchy bonk-buster involving us and the lads we fancied. Unfortunately, we did not have the common sense to realise that writing this bonk-buster in note-passing form during the lessons we shared was not the brightest idea. Even more tragically, we were a significant way into our literary triumph when we were sussed by our Maths teacher whose eyebrows disappeared beyond even his receding hairline on reading it.

    Luckily, the content proved to be too inappropriate for him to read aloud to the class.

    This was 12 years ago. I wish, however, that the story had ended then. Six years ago, I qualified as a teacher myself & started at a local school… To find that one of my new colleagues was my former Maths teacher. He remembered me.

  35. My friend and I used to roll up our notes and put them in an empty pen and then throw it across the classroom without the teacher ever noticing. It worked well until the teacher asked to borrow the pen and all the notes we had written about her velour bodysuit fell out and she read them.

  36. me and my friend were passing notes about a supply teacher once, being very crude and not too nice at all. the next day, my proper teacher was back and did a lesson on slang.. turns out she’d found our notes and couldn’t understand them, so used what we said in that lesson to decipher them!

  37. Wow, the rolled up notes in pens story brought it all flooding back! We also used to elaborately fold an A4 piece of paper to a 3rd of its size, write the note and then unfold it. The note could then only be read if it is was folded the correct way again. Not so much to fool teachers but to pass time in boring lessons!

  38. When I was 15, I moved across the country (US) to Georgia. I started going to my new high school and it was quite a transition. One day, about a week into school, a boy handed me a note as I was leaving my classroom and said it was from a friend of his. Being a girl who almost always feels elated by being passed a note, I rushed quickly to my locker to read it in privacy. I opened up the note and it read like so:
    Hey. I saw you in class. I know youre new so if you want to get to know me thats cool. My name is ****** and I drive a Ford F-150 with 22 inch rims. Hit me up sometime.
    I found the note so funny and strange that I keep it to this day! ( I still dont understand why he felt the need to tell me about his truck…)

  39. Pingback: A note on your notes, from Dawn |

  40. Me and my friend in grade seven used to pass notes all the time, like in every class we had together. She just pretended to look for something in my pencil case and dropped the note in where I would unceremoniously try to fish it out. I found this too difficult so we wrote on tiny pieces of paper and scrunched them up into tiny balls so if anyone found them they would think its rubbish. Well one day in history i flicked a note over to her and it landed right next to our teacher who is nice enough but doesn’t accept excuses even of the true kind (which intimidates me to no end) and me and my friend were sitting low in our chairs trying to fish the note back with our shoes because the contents of the note was about how ridiculously drab his class was. I got the note back but my friend has a small problem with laugh attacks and was sent outside until she calmed down. Now she cannot enter the classroom without laughing so every time the teacher makes us both wait outside the door until she stops laughing. He didn’t know about the note but I think he questions our sanity.

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