Test (plus a poem)

This is a test to see if posting to WordPress from Byword is still working.

But that isn’t very fair to you is it, dear reader? So, have a poem:

Hour after hour after
Hour after hour
In your bower
There’s ne’er
A glower.
That is your power:
The flower

A workflow for writing

It doesn’t solve my deep deep blogging woes, but this workflow for getting writing done on the Mac is gorgeous. It uses nvALT and Byword to stunning effect.

nvALT is a notes app. Byword is a Markdown editor, but this workflow will work with any Markdown editor you choose. You use nvALT (a fork of the lovely Notational Velocity) to manage your Markdown files (with a simple but very powerful search, so use slugs to divvy up your clients or projects or what have you), and to do light edits. But if you want to roll your sleeves up, your heavy duty editor is only a keyboard shortcut away.

Better still, I’ve started using an app called Write on an iPad. Now, nvALT talks to a notes folder in Dropbox. Write can be synced with exactly the same folder. So as long as I can find some Wi-Fi I’ve got a nice long-life lightweight writing setup. In fact I can work offline too, as long as I’ve already synced with Dropbox before I head away from my desk.

This doesn’t solve my chronic problem of getting words onto the internet more easily, but since I gave up on tags and categories, that’s taken a little of the pain out of it. My stats said neither of you were using them anyway.

Edit: Bugger. Monetising my links hasn’t worked.

Actual proper edit: I forgot you can publish to WordPress from Byword. That’s where piddling around gets you.

Bookmarklets tip

If you’re anything like me, you rotate your browser between Chrome, Safari and Firefox each time, every 3 to 6 months, you cross the annoyance threshold. By the time you’re back to number one, you’ve forgotten what the problem was and there’s every chance it’s gone away.

I have a PRO INTERNET TIP to make the switch easier.

If you’re anything like me, you switch service allegiance with alarming regularity too. For that reason, don’t have a “Read Later” bookmarklet, because when you come back to that browser, you’ll wonder, hmmm, was that before or after I switched from Instapaper to Pocket? Don’t have a “Bookmark” bookmarklet, because you’ll wonder if you changed browser before or after you ditched Delicious. Alright, bad example, because that was ages ago, but you know what I mean.



I’m still playing with blogging. I downloaded some third-party iPad app that talks to WordPress, but has an interface like Berlin, 1945. Why is there so much stuff in the way? All I ask is to be able to type something, and then have it beamed directly into the cerebral cortex of every mammal on Earth in such a way that they’re unable to think about anything else for the next 90 minutes. Is that so hard?

Telling time

As a writer, there’s a time for utility and there’s a time for poetry. The tricky thing is to tell one from the other.

That goes for some writers more than others. Poets need to summon up a high proportion of poetry, I imagine.


I set up a Jekyll blog hosted on Github pages. I wrote a couple of posts, and pushed them to Github using terminal. That was a fun exercise. I’m not convinced it’s the way I want to blog. I think there must be an even simpler way. But I’m glad I did it. More of that sort of thing.


I’m reading Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams. It’s the one about all the very endangered species. One thing that struck me: Adams writes excellent photo captions.

2014-09-04 12.51.10

Meet me at the appointed meeting place

I think I’m going to try moving this WordPress blog to Github Pages, and use Jekyll to update it with Markdown files. That sounds easier. At some point, I’m probably going to temporarily break my domain and permanently break my RSS. I’ll try to predict how and post about it ahead of time, but I’m 99% sure that isn’t going to happen. That being the case, I’ll tweet my new RSS feed, and stick it on jamesholloway.org. If the RSS goes cold for more than a few days, that’s probably what’s happened.


“Can you read what’s on that sign for me as we drive past, James?”

Much easier to snap it, I thought:

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 17.25.17

Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Fair’s an old old British ballad. It’s about love, or rather the lack of it. Listen to most recordings and you’ll hear a presumably jilted lover set an ex a series of impossible tasks. Things like:

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
One with no seams or fine needlework,
And then she’ll be a true lover of mine.

Not bitter, then.

But listen to, say, Marianne Faithful’s version, and there’s more to the story. The ex in Scarborough sets her own counter-tasks, leading to the wonderful conclusion:

And when you have done and finished your work,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Then come to me for your cambric shirt,
And then you’ll be a true lover of mine.

I sing this song to Alice to get her to sleep. I prefer the politics of versions like Faithful’s (and, for that matter, the lyrics on Wikipedia), but there are little inconsistencies and anachronisms that bother me slightly, so I thought I’d compile my own version – one with no yonders or ’pons, and with seastrand for the surely-misheard sea sand, and an invention or two of my own. It’s still not quite right (freshawater? Noooo) but these things can be mulled.

Scarborough Fair Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
One with no seams, or fine needlework,
And then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to wash it in a freshwater well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
And she shall be a true love of mine.

Tell her to dry it on a juniper thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
That never bore blossom since Adam was born,
And then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Now you have asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
I hope you’ll answer as many for me,
Before you’ll be a true love of mine.

Can you find me an acre of land?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Between the salt water and the seastrand,
Or never be a true love of mine.

And can you plough it with a ram’s horn?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
And sow it all over with one peppercorn?
Or you’ll never be a true love of mine.

Then can you sheer it with a sickle of leather?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
And then thrash it out with a bunch of heather?
Or never be a true love of mine.

When you have done and finished your work,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Come to me and you’ll have your shirt,
And then you’ll be a true love of mine.


If you wanted to, you could tell all sorts about my prevailing attitudes, moods and confidence levels by my social media avatars.

I’ve taken the link to headlessness down from jamesholloway.org. I suppose in my head that means that new people won’t find it.

I think I prefer that. Hopefully that means I can just get on with typing things. If I’m going to push it, I’ll ask someone for money, or stick it on Medium.

A wee dilemma

A new café’s opened in our bit of East London. It’s nice enough, but its clientele is exclusively white and middle class. That takes some going in London these days, and it makes me uneasy.

You can attract a mainly middle class clientele by doing your place up with that faux-aged shabby-chic look achieved largely with battered wooden furniture. Finish it with bric-a-brac from a wholesaler who specialises in that faux-aged look – sewing machines, radios, maritime memorabilia – and watch the middle class punters roll in.

First it was pubs; then high street clothing retailers. Now it’s little suburban cafés. This one used to be a hair dresser’s for crying out loud.

But to achieve a solely white clientele takes something more: awful service. The other day I trotted up with a brand new book and an hour to kill. I ordered a black coffee. It was when I noticed I’d gotten to page 24 and my coffee hadn’t turned up that I suspected something was amiss. (Note: I’m a slow, deliberate reader.)

I was sitting outside, and looking in through the window, I could see the staff cleaning out cupboards. No new clients had placed orders. They’d simply forgotten to make my coffee. Like most establishments pitched at hipsters, the staff are exclusively young, beautiful and clueless. But to forget to make an order when there’s only one order outstanding – that’s a remarkable feat.

So what was the dilemma? It wasn’t, I hope you realise, whether or not to chase up my order. I did that. The problem was this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me there. Should I let them know, in the hopes that this will shake a still-new established out of a daze of complacency?

Surely this can’t only be happening to me. It must be happening to the other white middle class saps for whom shabby-chic trumps the minimum acceptable service. That being the case, this is a place in disarray, though it’s nothing one clueful part-time manager couldn’t fix after a day’s training and a few stern reminders. I want the place to succeed. I’m white and middle class. It’s right up my snicket.

What I did doesn’t matter. What would you have done? That’s the question.


I wonder which 200 words I’d type after a frazzled day house hunting. I imagine they’d start something like this, non-commital and directionless. Then I bet I’d make some wild assertion just to keep myself interested. Then I think I’d worry that 200 words is actually way too many to type after a day like that, and so I’d begin to pad out my sentences with vast numbers of pointless words that, strictly, I don’t really need to be using at all. Next I’d veer off to the first tangent that sprang to mind. Probably elephants: the differences between African and Indian, a lament of the ivory trade, or an observation about those cartoon elephants that certain types of people hang in their bathrooms. Then I’d begin to see a closed circle about how much of the 70s and 80s housing stock I’d seen that day was basically unfurnishable. No furniture exists that suits it. But do you know what does? Those cartoon elephants. In a bubblebath. Or in their pajamas. At some point I’d stop typing and proofread to work out where I could subtract a few words to nail the limit. I think it’d look like that.