Tim Key: 'There's nothing like working al fresco. As long as I’m far enough away from the fumes'

 

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It's nice now it's getting more and more summery. I like to waddle around with my jumper round my waist and my visor pulled down like I rule the place. As it heats up, I loosen my laces and puffen my chest out, I click my fingers as I swan about, squinting and sweating. But the biggest joy of all, when it's like this, is to leave the hot, stuffy Independent on Saturday offices, skip out towards the sun-drenched bits outside of cafés, and conduct my work al fresco.

I've made my way to an establishment on a small street in the guts of Kensington. I've ordered myself a thick black coffee and a fairy cake, and I'm sat outside soaking up beams and muttering the phrase "This is the life" over and over. The table I'd been gunning for as I bought my supplies got snaffled at the very last moment by two young men, so I'm sitting on a lone stool. If I'd known this would be the situation, I'd have pressed on to another café where I might have got a table, but I've already got my coffee now, and I can easily put my fairy cake on my lap and rest my notepad on my wrist, not a problem. The important thing is I'm right in the sun and I'm far enough from the road that the fumes and the noise aren't a massive problem. Lush.

I'm fortunate that I have a trade – I'm a professional columnist – where it is possible to get work done outside. You hear of jobs where there isn't that flexibility. Jobs where, when the sun bursts through the clouds, it is frowned upon to transfer your work to the nearest plaza. Prison guards, for example, can't "go and get an hour done outside a café". Also, snooker players, dentists and videotape editors are slaves to the buildings they ply their trade in. In fact, I can probably name 10 occupations that you can't do to any sort of level while also feeling the sun on your neck. Baker would be another one. Interior designer. That's already five. Choreographer, maybe? They work in studios. Chimney sweep? Roof insulator? Nightclub owner?

I spread my legs and fan my crotch. Occasionally, I send a group text from my iPhone. It's to all the suckers I know who work indoors. I include a photo in my text just to hammer home my point. I take one of the sky, but I have to wait because the sun has gone in for a moment. In fact, now more clouds are coming and it looks like it's not going to re-emerge, so I hang tight. The vagaries of May in England. Nope, it's not coming out, so I take it anyway. With the sun hidden, my shoulders become cold. I shiver and sip my black coffee to warm up.

I guess I'll probably tough this out for another 20 minutes or so before sloping back to the office. I envisage there'll be a fair amount of envy that I've just nipped out and nailed my column in Mediterranean conditions. I'll certainly be explaining to them that that is what I've done. I remember when I was 18, I worked in a library. From 8.30am until 5.30pm, I was imprisoned in a windowless tower, scurrying around and fetching books, stamping inserts and crouching in lifts. I vowed then to work hard and find myself a job that had, at the very least, a window. Now look at me. Outside. Bossing it in my shades. It's genuinely chilly now and I pop my cardy on.

I open up an app on my phone, which lets you tinker with your photos, and I get to work on this one, brightening it and adding an orange hue. It is starting to spit a little bit, so I keep having to wipe my touchscreen with my cuff. The young men have gone inside, so I nab their table. Position A. The photo looks slightly less overcast than real life, so I send it along with the message: 'LOSERS'.

I sip my coffee. That, too, has gone cold. The whole thing is miserable.

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