Cafe Society (Day 22)

The coffee shop has a long tradition of being a place of creativity and innovation. Today I met up with Chris Ward who recently wrote a whole book about that association and how to make it work for you in the 21st century. He kindly gave me this copy:

out of office

As a person who spends one hour a day each way on the tube to work, so that’s 10 hours a week, or 1 day a week, so that’s 47 weeks a year, the book makes a lot of sense to me. The office and commute make no business, economic, environmental, transport or any other sense in this day and age.

Cafe No. 1: Campbell & Syne, East Finchley

I met my former colleague at Channel 4 Louise Brown for a catch-up and met her delightful new twins. Got to hold a baby for the first time in ages. That puts you in touch with what really matters and is worthwhile.

Campbell and Syne

Cafe No. 2: Shoreditch House, Shoreditch

Met up with some Channel 4 on-screen talent to discuss the end of the office, the end of the university degree, the end of borders, the end of cars, the end of the retail high street, the end of all sorts of things that make less and less sense in the digital age. Michael Acton Smith, who features in Chris’ book, walked past, not in his office. He’s done very well for himself by inventing Moshi Monsters in a cafe.

Shoreditch house club

Cafe No. 3: Albion, Shoreditch

I met Chris in Terence Conran’s Albion cafe. Outside in front I bumped into Utku and Noam from Mint Digital, creators of Stickygram, also not in their office. Mint and I thought up Quotables in a cafe opposite Great Ormond Street – it’s becoming a TV show this month (Was It Something I Said). Chris filled me in on the world of self-publication, design and printing which is how he chose to go with Out of Office. It got to No. 1 in the business charts.

Albion cafe shoreditch

Cafe No. 4: Dan and DeCarlo, East Finchley

I waited for Enfant Terrible No. 2 at this place opposite The Archer, East Finchley’s fine Art Deco landmark (a sculpture created by the man who designed the staircase to heaven in Powell & Pressberger’s A Matter of Life and Death). I wrote more of the Paul Arden chapter, an intense burst of writing to conclude the day. Chris Ward cites Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are… as a key text for his notional ‘Penny University’, a term used of the 18th Century coffee shops of London and their potential for learning – a penny bought you entry, a cup of the black stuff, the newspapers and snippets of journalistic gossip. Chris is in the habit of giving Arden’s tome away to everyone he ever works with.

dan and decarlo cafe

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2 comments so far

  1. […] my return from Maurizio’s cafe I got a bit caught up with a tangent into the colourful world of Charles Bukowski before knuckling […]

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  2. […] interview by Jeremy Paxman a couple of weeks ago. Chris Ward, who gave me some publishing advice on Day 22, gathered together a small bunch of people who were struck by the Newsnight interview to discuss […]

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