Courting creativity – be nice to us

Roger Rabbits
with Jim Bunny

They used to say the best way to get seen or heard in your local newspaper was to put on a spread - mince avouries, sausage rolls, bacon and egg pie, a slice of Madeira.

Why? Because freeloading reporters could sniff out a complimentary cheese roll from a mile. Freeloading was in the DNA. We loved something for nothing - especially if it could be eaten or drunk.

We’d say it made for a better story - there was clarity of thought, words came easier and angles were obvious on a belly full of free food.

It didn’t matter what the story was. If it involved food, free food, we circled like buzzards armed with appetites, pens, pads and intrusive questions.

I knew a photographer who’d return from a job with the pockets of his grubby old green corduroy jacket bulging with bounties from his latest free lunch - savouries and sausage rolls, the ones he couldn’t pack into his gob at the time.

He’d ask around the office for freebie tomato sauce for his freebie takeaways, then slope off into the darkroom only to later complain about flakes of pastry in the developing tank.

No style, no shame. But great pictures. It was a different newspaper world to today’s.

Mark Story is a new-er age kind of journo and none of the issues above are his issues. In fact, he pays his own way - $12.50 for a flat white and brioche, and one hour of cafe time.

Problem is, a $12.50 spend was considered an “insignificant spend”, and his favourite “good-feels cafe”, being mindful of other paying customers, suggested he spend up or sling his hook. Marched out for under-spending, under-eating and overstaying. Lovely!


Mark’s into “cofficing”, a portmanteau of coffee and office. He takes his laptop into the cafe for a few hours a week to feed off the ambience and work remotely - his office away from the office.

I can already hear the grumbling from deep in the La-Z-Boys down the Avenues - some upstart, entitled reporter using cafe space, cafe furniture, cafe electricity, their white noise, their little boys’ room, their heating, their Wi-Fi, their food and coffee, all for $12.50. What does he expect?

But surely a bum on a seat contributes to a better feel in a cafe than an empty seat? But no.

I’d take my $12.50 elsewhere. Like all the way from Hawke’s Bay - where Mark is based - to the Bay of Plenty. “Cofficing” is a way of life here.

I knew a charming bloke who is a doctor-academic-research-scientist-author-entrepreneur who did some of his best work next to a hissing, spitting coffee machine in a cafe in Bethlehem.

He was there from 9-11am every morning for two or three flat whites and a swag of work on his laptop.

Perhaps back in the afternoon; and might even bring his family in for dinner. Worked for everyone. Stuff got done, science was served, the till rang merrily, and family was happy.


The interesting thing is the hurly-burly of a busy cafe wasn’t a distraction for the scientist - it kept him focused, creative and efficient. That’s borne out by science.

The University of British Columbia studied the effectiveness of the working process in a room where noise level ranged from silent, to constant, to very loud.

Researchers concluded a medium level of noise complicated the processing of information in a positive way - it kick-started abstract thinking and stimulated creativity.

That Hawke’s Bay cafe may, understandably, think in scones, coffees and table turnover, but at what cost to newspaper readers? All that abstract thinking and creativity stifled, wonderful thoughts and words snuffed out when Mark was levered from his cafe haven, from his writers’ retreat, from his creative space.

Help... in the BoP 

But help is here Mark, because we in the real bay, the Bay of Plenty, we care. I’m turning my gaff into a hub for work-from-home-people who don’t want to work from home.

Come coffice at my place.

Make yourself a pod coffee and piece of toast.

Then you can kick back and listen to my Marilyn Manson and Michael Buble collection for white noise, use the dunny and internet, watch Sky Sport and if you have time, put on a load of washing.

You might also take Mutt out for a pee. No limit on your stay, Mark. No one will tell you to “vacate” and keep the $12.50. This one’s on me.