In the short story Birth of a New School, Ernest Hemingway - "Hem" to his fans, like me - describes the frustrations of trying to write in a public place. I increasingly sympathise.
He was working in one of the grand cafe-bistros of Paris in the golden 1920s; I'm trying it in the Dome cafe in the DIFC.
Just as it was all going well for Hem ("you knew your luck was there") he would be disturbed: "Then you'd hear someone say: 'Hi Hem, what are you trying to do? Write in a cafe?'"
Try as he might after that, the spell was broken and he had to stop. "Your luck had run out and you shut the notebook."
Now I'm not comparing myself to Hemingway, by any means. There are obvious differences: I don't much like bullfighting, have never been a war correspondent, and it doesn't look as though that Nobel prize for literature is ever coming my way.
But I too feel my luck has run out whenever I see somebody come into the Dome with an iPad, sit down at a table and plug in earphones. You know that in the next few minutes any chance you had of quiet concentration will be gone as you're forced to listen to one side of a Skype conversation.
The annoying phenomenon has become increasingly common lately, I guess as more and more people have iPads. But do they really have to sit there and shout at them?
One Dome customer recently stopped the whole cafe by having a major argument with somebody via Skype.
His conversation became more and more animated until he broke out into a loud stream of Anglo-Saxon that made everybody drop their own conversations and turn to stare at the cause of the outburst. Poor Jennifer the waitress blushed crimson.
Hemingway would probably have punched the offender on the nose and walked out of the cafe, but that's another way in which he and I differ. I just sit there and tut-tut, hoping the iPad-shouter will be embarrassed into leaving.
It won't drive me out of the Dome. The staff are too nice to me and it's too convenient. But I'll have to take measures.
Hem carried a rabbit's foot in his pocket to make sure the luck continued. I'm going to carry ear-plugs.
The other reason for staying at the Dome is, in the motto of the late, lamented British newspaper the News of the World, "all human life is there".
You get to know the regulars, and can spot the trysts, corporate or personal, that are being hatched on the terrace of the DIFC. And you see the human side of business.
One senior market executive regularly has a smoke break from the office, and we often chat. He is having a new house built out near Nad Al Sheba, and wants to give it the authenticity of a traditional Emirati family home and villa.
He explained to me how, in what he regarded as an investment coup, he recently paid Dh20,000 (US$5,445) for an olive tree that would become the focal point of the garden square at the centre of the house.
This is no ordinary tree. It is 300 years old and is worth much more on the open market.
Whatever next? Olive tree futures?