Ups and downs of bringing your work to the coffee shop
'There is only one effect coffee shops have for sure: they are rough on your skeleton. The chairs are designed to be sat on for half an hour – not all day'
“So no, yeah, it was all good. So, like, basically, yeah, all good. No, I’m literally at Starbucks. I came to charge my phone . . . ” I turn round. He’s plugged in his mobile, but hasn’t even bought a drink.
I’ve finished mine, and need the loo. WikiHow does not advise on how to deal with this eventuality, so I decide to take all my stuff in with me. When I return, my table has been taken by someone else.
I leave Starbucks and head down the road to Euphorium, a brighter and groovier independent coffee shop. I get a nice table, and even though it’s barely 11am order a salt beef bagel. I enter the WiFi password and get down to work. Within five minutes I’m joined by two women, each with a buggy the size of a small car. In one a baby screams. “Oh, Oscar”, says his mother.
With some effort I block this out, but when I look up, someone is waving at me. It’s the mother of a boy my son knew at primary school, who comes over to say her boy has just got into Oxford university and that he’s spending his gap year acting in some Hollywood film. Great, I say, continuing to type. In the office this trick always works: colleagues take the hint. But in coffee shops it does not seem to work at all. When I finally get rid of her I order a strawberry tart to lift my spirits. And then a cappuccino to lift them some more. While I drink it I read something from the New Yorker online about how caffeine destroys your creativity.
I don’t believe this any more than I believe that working in a café can increase it. There is only one effect coffee shops have for sure: they are rough on your skeleton. The chairs are designed to be sat on for half an hour – not all day.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
After three hours, my back hurts and carpal tunnel syndrome can’t be far off. They are rough on the stomach too: two coffees, a Diet Coke, a bagel and a tart, and it’s not quite lunchtime.
I’ve just Googled famous people who work in cafés, and at the top of every list is JK Rowling. I now forgive her everything. If she wrote Harry Potter sitting in a coffee shop, she could surely have managed Middlemarch in a quiet office with a comfortable chair. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013)