Thanks for the memories, Justin

Justin Edinburgh
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As birthday presents go, it was perhaps one of the most bittersweet, but when I woke up to the news this morning that Justin Endinburgh had been relieved of his duties at Gillingham, I couldn’t help but raise a smile.

When Justin was appointed Gills manager in February 2015, the style and approach he brought to the team provided entertainment and promise. Becoming one of the dominant forces at the top of the league by the end of that year gave us fans hope that we could find ourselves back in the Championship, for only the second time in our history.

Then, when I returned from Barcelona that Christmas, everything started going downhill. It’s impossible to say with certainty what triggered our collapse from top to an ultimate ninth-placed finish, but an injury to our star-player Bradley Dack, a confidence-collapsing loss at Wigan Athletic and a seeming inability for Edinburgh to change his tactics after teams had worked out how to beat us all played a part.

Nobody with a heart would act with malicious glee at somebody losing their job, but when this season started in the same way as the last had ended, it was clear Edinburgh was on borrowed time. I became a convert to the “JED out” cause in October, but was less vocal than others, believing the most important thing is always to support my team.

Edinburgh’s time was perhaps extended by virtue of our Chairman’s major heart operation, an assumption all the more feasible by the fact that today is Mr Scally’s first day back at work. He did not hold back in his assessment of our performance:

I don’t believe that the players weren’t trying, I just don’t think they felt comfortable with the way we were trying to play, or how we were trying to play. I am not sure they even understood exactly how we were supposed to be trying to play.

Yesterday, I was sat in the block next to the Directors and immediately glanced at Mr Scally at full time. I had a hunch, just by the expression on his face, that Edinburgh had managed his last game, something I mentioned on one of the Gills forums on Facebook.

Now that Edinburgh has gone, I would like to thank him for his hard work at Gillingham, and for some special memories, but hope that a new manager can turn our form around permanently and help us start pushing towards the top of the table again.

Next manager

Mr Scally has said that he started working on the new management team last night, and does not want to have a drawn-out interview process (like the five weeks it took to appoint Edinburgh). With no game this weekend, he has some time to find the right man before the next match at Oldham.

The Sky Bet odds on the next manager, as at 12:30 today, are:

Ady Pennock 1/3
Dennis Wise 10/1
Kenny Jackett 10/1
Nigel Adkins 11/1
Steven Pressley 12/1
Steve Cotterill 12/1

#CC16: 2 Days to Christmas

Video

Throughout this Countdown to Christmas, I have tried to entertain and inform, with a variety of videos to suit different tastes and styles.

Today, though, I hope you will permit me a little self-indulgence as I prepare to see my fiancée again for the first time since 18 October.

Regular readers or followers of my Twitter feed will know (or at least got the hint) that the past twelve months have been shit (sorry, but there’s no other way of putting it), and I have spent the grand total of 64 days out the the 370 days since I moved back to the UK (or 17% of that time) with my bride-to-be – many of which were not “full” days due to one or both of us travelling the 870 miles (1,400km) that presently separates us.

So today’s Countdown to Christmas is another Catalan entry but, rather than focusing on Catalan culture, is a more romantic affair. The lyrics roughly translate* as follows:

Now that the night has become longer
Now that the leaves dance in the corner
Now that the streets are partying
Today the cold brings back many memories

Now that the words abound
Now that the wind blows so strong
Today I do not need to see you, or even speak
For knowing that you are by my side

It’s Christmas in my heart
When you smile happy to see me
When the night becomes colder
When you embrace my body

And the colourful lights
Light me up night and day
You light them with your smile
When you talk to me from the heart

It’s the void that is left when you get up
It’s the void that is made at home when no one is there
All we are left with are small details
Like leaving a long hair on a jumper

You said that you would never return
The pacient time has gone past
Who could have said that today you’d be waiting
That we would have found ourselves together by your side

It’s Christmas in your heart
When I smile happy to see you
When the night becomes cleaner
When I embrace your body

And the colourful lights
Light me up night and day
They light up your smile
When I talk to you from the heart

* Roughly translated by me, so apologies for any errors!

#CC16: 3 Days to Christmas

Video

We’ve already explored the Caganer and today we’re going to look at another poop-tastic Catalan Christmas tradition: the caga tió.

The QI video clip I posted last week already referenced the the “poop log”, but American comedian and actress Kate McKinnon does a much better job of explaining the caga tió tradition than Stephen did (or I could):

Today’s Countdown to Christmas entry, then, is a celebration of the caga tió by Ambäukatunàbia, an entertainment group formed in April 2008 by a collection of youth workers, and which also takes in some traditional verses used by Catalan children when beating the poop log with their sticks. The lyrics roughly translate* as follows:

You already have me here, like every year just before Christmas,
I keep you company during these very special days.
The wind is frozen on the mountain where I come from,
a barretina [traditional Catalan hat] and a blanket would be great for me.

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

During these days in which you welcome me into your home
fill me with fruit, biscuits or a crust of bread.
The day I feel very tired and at bursting point
you take the stick and prepare yourselves to sing!

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

I am very tired… uuuuf…
at breaking point.
Pay attention!
What will come out?

Poop log, hazelnuts and nougats,
don’t poop herrings which are too salty.
Poop nougats which are better!

Poop log, hazelnuts and nougats,
if you don’t want to poop I will beat you with a stick,
If you don’t want to poop I will beat you with a stick.

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

Poop log!
Hazelnuts and nougats!
If you don’t want to poop,
I will beat you with a stick!

Next year I will be celebrating Christmas with my (by then) Catalan wife, and I am thoroughly enjoying learning not just the Catalan language, but also the history and culture of the region. I hope you’ll enjoy the little nuggets spread through this year’s Countdown to Christmas, too!

* Roughly translated by me, so apologies for any errors!