Writers! Context research - Time and Place - Year 2003- my work in progress

Dear Readers
I've been writing my second memoir off and on for several years now.  Well, my first book - A Hippopotamus at the Table, took me 5-10 years to write. The second memoir that I'm currently working on - Beyond the Bounds, received a  Highly Commended certificate for Chapter One in 2017 at the Winchester LitFest.  
 All kinds of things happened after that which delayed me - including a major bereavement.  I've been picking up the threads again in the last few months.  
Myself (I'm on the right)and my friend Di - 
Clifton beach at sunset, Cape Town Jan 2020
Photographer Brian Van Hansen 
Memoir writing was a subject I taught for a few years and from my experiences, I went on to write my book Writing Memoir. How to Write a Story from yor Life.  In this book,  I wrote a chapter entitled 'The Importance of Time and Place.'  The chapter discusses how, when writing a memoir (or any book come to that) placing your story in its context, in time and place is vitally important to give depth to your story.
   I realised that my second memoir (and I'm halfway through) doesn't really do that. Like all good advice-givers, I've ignored my own advice - not completely, but substantially.  So much was happening in the world in 2003 much of it impacted on me and yet I've either not mentioned it or brushed over it. 

 First and foremost were the events leading to the invasion of Iraq.  In Feb 2003 I took part in the Million People March against the invasion, a march which took place in London.  I'm not telling you that to be virtuous.  I went on the march for complex reasons.  Firstly because I'm a Buddhist and a pacifist.  I felt we should not be bringing war to the people of Iraq and interfering in their affairs.  I felt that we Brits should be concentrating our resources on our own people in the UK, not spending billions on weaponry and missiles. And it was clear that the evidence in regard to Saddam and his 'weapons of mass destruction' was thin and ropey.  But (a big but) Saddam and his awful sons had been doing appalling things to their own Iraqi peoples - particularly the Marsh Dwellers ( mustard-gassed, marshes drained, mass ecological destruction), attacking Kuwait etc.. If nobody did anything, wasn't it equivalent to standing by and letting an abuser get away with his abuse and in Saddam's case, commit mass murder.  So I had very mixed feelings about the 'invasion'/liberation.
   Also in 2003, I had taken part in (and sometimes organised)  mass protests in London, for 7-8 months,  against the regime of Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe (the land of my birth), another murderous dictator bent on the destruction of sections of his own people. In theory, he was an elected leader. In practice,  elections were rigged. 
   All this terror and cruelty that was being inflicted on his own people, white and black, had culminated in a mass protest of Zimbabweans outside Lord's cricket ground on 23rd May 2003, because the ECB (English Cricket Board) had permitted a match of Zimbabwe v England to take place at Lords Cricket Ground, London.. 
  The Zimbabwean cricket team had been hand-picked by Mugabe to exclude those who were MDC members and therefore politically opposed to him.  I, great cricket lover that I am [I'd rather watch paint dry]) had bought a ticket and waited for an opportune moment.  Then I'd walked calmly onto the pitch with my large anti-Mugabe poster held high (BOWL OUT KILLER MUGABE it said) and stopped the match at the start of play - albeit temporarily. This was reported widely by all the tabloids. I was arrested and charged with 'Aggravated Trespass' and given an injunction not to go near any cricket matches [oh dear, what a shame). All of these events, including demos outside the grounds made by many other Zim protesters  got maximum publicity.
   We'll see what all this context research does to my story - enrich it I hope.  The challenge will be what to put in and what to leave out.  As a writer, you have to keep the focus on your own story thread and not get too diverted - or your reader will lose interest.  Watch this space.

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