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Fête mobile

26/11/2009 - par Mark Tungate

I'm writing this in a café. I love writing in cafés – the ability to do so is part of the romance of freelancing, after all – but it's not as easy as you might think. When we catch Hemingway writing in a café at the beginning of A Moveable Feast (Paris est une fête), he's scribbling away in a notebook using a freshly sharpened pencil, while downing several glasses of rum (for the record, I'm drinking an espresso). No doubt the waiters paid little attention to Hem has he scratched out his short story.

On the other hand, I'm tapping away at my rather ostentatious Mac Book. I may be paranoid, but I swear the waitress here at the Café Paris-London narrowed her eyes when I lugged it out of my bag. They're not all that keen on laptop users, Paris café proprietors. A place called Le Loir dans la théière in the Marais bans them altogether. And Wi-Fi is by no means as widespread as it should be here at the end of 2009. The owners murmur about radio waves, but we know it's about customer traffic.

When I polled several friends about this, they told me that attitudes to laptop use in Paris cafés ranged from indulgent to frosty. They advised me to write in either Starbucks or McDonald's. Thanks… but no thanks. I would never compare myself to Hemingway, but you've got to have standards.

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