My holiday - the naked truth

23rd July

Am spending two weeks in the South of France with family. A perfect fortnight with good food and weather. What could go wrong?

Later

Have just found out we are staying for one week in a friend's house and the otherI on a canal boat. Having second thoughts.

24th July

Annecy

Lac d' Annecy. A fantastic excuse for a swim. Ah, now exactly where did we pack those swimming costumes? No matter, will skinny-dip.

Later

I somehow don't think anyone appreciated the sight of my dad, naked.

25th July

Mont Blanc

Nearly froze to death. Will never go up Mont Blanc in shorts ever again.

26th July

Somewhere near Montelimar

Arrived at house in the dark. House v. dirty and v. scary. Rat poison everywhere. Dad dropped bottle of tonic water. Am going to look for dustpan and bucket.

Later Can't find dustpan.

Much later

Nor bucket.

Even later

Found old bucket in garden. However, didn't notice the hole in the bottom, until it was full with water. Have never laughed so much in my life.

Song of the day

There's a hole in your bucket, dear Simon, dear Simon.

27th July

Cycled to the top of a huge hill with the promise of ice cream at top. In fact there was nothing, no houses, no shops. Nothing.

Note to self: Never believe Mum.

Night time

Thunder storm. V. hot and v. awake. Need loooooooooo. Ah just turn on bathroom light. Oh god, all the lights have gone out.

MUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMM!!

Later

Dad just went outside, naked, to get the table in. Wonderful spectacle for the poor, drunk, Frenchman coming home from the pub.

30th July

Am v. desperate for loo. Tap is stuck in bathroom. Plumber can't come until tomorrow. Had to turn off water. No shower or loo until then. Might be forced to go in bushes. Hmm, maybe not.

1st August

French Motorway

Have made worst mistake of holiday, so far. Travelled from house to boat on day EVERYBODY in France goes on holiday.

1 hour later

Stuck in traffic jam.

2 hours later

Still there.

God knows how long later

Dad: Oh stuff this. Going to drive up hard shoulder.

Evening, Canal du Midi

Appear to be staying on a large, floating bathtub. Going to bed.

Later

Bed is half size of normal bed. What have I let myself in for?

2nd August

In the pouring rain

Cycled to and from small village for food. Returned to discover boat adrift and blocking the canal. Snotty-nosed Englishmen, on other bank, complaining about people not mooring their boat properly. Oh, the humiliation.

3rd August

Am going to cycle to nearby town to buy a new bike. Old bike has bits falling off it.

Later

"Nearby", my arse. Town is a racetrack. So many cars, so few bikes.

Seven shops later

Ahhhh, have found new bike. Now to cycle home.

Evening

Dad just set fire to whole of the riverbank with his barbecue.

6th August

Not very experienced at locks. Dad managed to drive neatly into back of someone else's boat. Big, scary French woman, in multi-coloured swimming costume and old-fashioned hat, started screaming at Dad. Oh God, am going to hide in cabin.

Afternoon

Soaked. I, well, erm, fell in the canal. Thank God I just passed my mile badge.

Later

Spent 2 hours trying to moor but was stopped by tree roots. Whole village turned up to watch. Very embarrassing.

Day to be officially named Unlucky Thursday.

7th August Am going home. YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! Next year to spend very peaceful holiday in somewhere like Afghanistan.

Working with the extract

This piece provides the opportunity to look at the diary as a form for autobiographical writing. The main linguistic features of autobiographical writing still hold true:

* first-person narrative

* a story about key incidents in the writer's life

* an expression of the writer's feelings, thoughts, reactions, beliefs

* description of main influences - people, places, events - on the writer

* description of interactions between the writer and important people in his or her life.

Diary writing is often in note form or even secret code. The emphasis is on abbreviation and noting the main points.

This deceptively simple piece of writing from one of last year's winners is in the form of a holiday diary. It is funny and informative and uses the abbreviated diary entries to maximise the humour. Notice how the writer achieves that effect by giving us the information bit by bit in separate entries. These focus on the main events and not the place as such. There is little or no description.

Suggestions for writing

Write your holiday memories as a series of diary entries. Try to exploit the format to add to the humour. Alternatively you could use the diary format to write about any other significant moment in your life.

Write a series of postcards to a friend about your holiday. The postcards could build a picture gradually and portray the humour in a similar way to the diary entries.

About the author

Anna Bucks, aged 14, attends James Allen's Girls' School in London. Anna says she chose the diary format because she "wanted to include the whole holiday - well, the funny side of the whole holiday - and there weren't enough words otherwise. And I am a Bridget Jones fan as well".

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