Thursday, November 09, 2006

Memory and Writing

I was doing an author event in Market Harborough library last week, alongside Clare Littleford and Sally Spedding. We did our Hazard Warning performance, then spoke about our writing and finally took questions.

"You have written three books centred around a fictional riot," one audience member began. "Have you ever been in a real riot?"

"No," I said.

But then, as Clare and Sally were speaking, a memory came to me, unasked for and un-accessed for many years. When it was my turn to speak again I had to correct my earlier answer.

It all happened when I was ten years old and we were living in Ghana in West Africa. We were stuck in traffic in the capital city that day, sitting in the car, waiting. Then along the road came a demonstration. I remember lots of men moving towards us, surrounding the car, chanting a slogan - something about the things of Ghana being for Ghana, about not wanting foreigners. I remember hands slapping down on the windows and on the roof of the car, faces peering in at us from all sides, the car being rocked. The traffic in front of us cleared. Somehow we were moving again, passing through the crowd. Then we were out of it and away.

So here is the question - is it a coincidence that I spent 4 years of my life writing about a fictional riot, kicked off by a car being rocked and then turned over?

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