Featured Writer: Fran Macilvey

Fran is a member of Rose Fraser Ritchie’s Thistle Group and her memoir Trapped is revelatory and moving – see extract below.

Born in Congo, Fran spent eight years at boarding school before working as a lawyer for ten years. Her memoir, Trapped: My Life with Cerebral Palsy (Skyhorse) is an Amazon bestseller. Her next two books, Happiness Matters (June 2017) and Making Miracles (October 2017) explore how we can find happiness, themes which she has developed into series of workshops. Fran is also writing new fiction about women in the law. In her spare time she reads, swims, rides a horse called Fudge and dances when no-one is watching. Contact Fran at franmacilvey@fastmail.fm or http://www.franmacilvey.com for more information.
Excerpt from Trapped: My Life with Cerebral Palsy by Fran Macilvey (Skyhorse 2016)

‘…..Slowly, I made sense of myths surrounding me. I came to dread the presence of guests at our table. The repetition of punchy one-liners such as, “Fran was delivered by Kristof, you see, the cord was around her neck,” or, “An unfortunate case of negligence, but what could we do . . .?” accompanied the asparagus starter and the delicious beefsteak. Like all children whose parents will insist on embarrassing them in public, I squirmed in my seat and blushed. I dreaded hearing what had happened to me and hated knowing that the circumstances of my birth were so often part of the table talk. Embarrassment at my physical shortcomings—as well as a fear that my brain might also be slightly broken—may have fuelled the constant reminders of my deliverance. I was only expected to smile.
My mother might occasionally add, “I took you with me, you know, although they tried to persuade me to leave you at the hospital, put you in a home,” and then resume her task of pouring, eating, wiping her lips, leaving statements such as these hovering between us like unexploded bombs. Children take what is said to them very literally. Painful half-truths thrown out over their heads without any of the love or patience that is needed to disarm them, fester with hidden threats.
What was a spindle shank like me to make of this latest revelation? I felt like weeping with terror at the prospect of being abandoned, so nakedly laid out for public viewing. A precocious child might have dared to ask, “You mean . . . I should be grateful you did not abandon me?” I could not pluck up enough courage, in case her answer came back, “Yes, of course you should be grateful,” which I would take to mean, “Because you are really such a nuisance.” So I smiled inanely, nodded, and mumbled a useless “thank you” before resolving to be good forever and ever….’

© Fran McIlvey 2017

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