Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Ben McCormick

Ben McCormick | 10th January 2016

Shadows and Reflections: the annual collection of postings where Caught by the River’s contributors and friends take a look back on the events that have shaped the past twelve months. Today it’s the turn of Ben McCormick.

Such a curate’s egg of a year was 2015 that I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to write one of these pieces this time around. No disasters, no triumphs, relatively few trials but not that much to shout about either.

I have said a fair few goodbyes this year – to one or two former friends, to one or two ideas of romances, to my old car, to my annual Beer Advent Calendar, to my flat for the last four years and, finally, to my marriage, which was full-stopped by the anticlimactic arrival of my decree absolute in August. None of them seem to have provoked more than a philosophical ‘ho hum’. On the flipside, there were some delightful hellos. The birth of The Unlikely Lads on a last-minute, possibly ill-advised but hugely entertaining trip to Hebden Bridge in January stands out, as does the two-day long workshop I co-hosted with friends new and old in northern Spain in June.

While February and March punched a one-two combination to the ego, April provided a hilarious birthday trip to Manchester and May saw the eventual publication of the Antidote to Indifference I’d been working on for a year or two. It also saw me knocked off my bike on the roundabout at St George’s Circus, witnessing a broken finger and two cracked ribs for the rider in the process. June and July were the holiday months, firstly the annual Barcelona and beyond break then the sublimely relaxing family holiday in Brittany that featured homebrewed beer, a beach wedding and my mum’s 70th birthday. A short, sharp Port Eliot shock was a suitably silly finale to the summer’s awaydays, though sylvan nuptials the following week ensured the season’s revelry continued a while longer. September I struggle to remember, while October managed to behave itself considerably better than it had in 2014 – more mirth than misery in the Victorian Baths of Manchester, the gentle edginess of south Bristol and the autumnal colour riot of Westonbirt. November spawned no monsters, unless you count the 6.5% saison I brewed and that is nearing its end. And then December. A last foray into daily alcoholism, news of more writing commissions, interesting diversions, big decisions and brighter outlooks than I’ve had in years.

So despite failing to capitalise on the promise I looked forward to this time last year, I don’t feel like it’s in any way been a bad one. No drama was probably what I needed and is definitely what I got. Unnecessary skins that have been weighing me down have been shed over the past 12 months and are now only dust. I’ve learned a lot. The book is under way. And for the first time in years, I feel like me again.