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November 22, 2012

A Street Cat Named Bob

By James Bowen

This is the inspirational story of James Bowen, a street musician living in London. One day in March 2007 he found an injured ginger cat in the hallway of his block of flats. The moment the pair found each other was a turning point in both of their lives.

James is a recovering drug addict and here he gives an honest and candid account of his life spent busking on the streets of London. As he says, he was living a hand-to-mouth existence and, finding it hard enough to look after himself, the last thing he needed in his life at this point was a pet.

Perhaps he recognised a kindred spirit in the injured tom curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation. As an animal lover, James could not resist helping the cat. He managed to get veterinary care for the cat, whom he eventually named Bob after a TV character from a favourite show, and after a couple of weeks of TLC and medication, decided to release Bob back onto the streets.

But Bob had other ideas, and stuck like glue to James as he made his way to his usual busking spot. Eventually it became routine, Bob riding on James’ shoulder, taking the bus together, and they quickly became a hit with the crowds. James began to earn significantly more money than he had ever done, but more than that, the bond with Bob meant he no longer felt alone in the world.

With the extra responsibilities of feeding and tending to Bob, James soon realised it was time to make another step forward towards sorting his life out and took a job selling the Big Issue. Again, Bob proved a hit with the punters and copies of the Big Issue sold well. It was also thanks to Bob that James decided to make another big step towards getting clean and coming off methadone; the scenes of James going cold turkey are reminiscent of the movie Trainspotting.

Anyone with pets will know how much they keep you grounded – pets are like children and are a huge responsibility – and there is no better proof of this than the bond between James and Bob.

This is a genuinely heart-warming tale of hope and friendship.

James’ out-of-five star rating: ****

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