Monday, 11 June 2012

Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob

My lovely neighbour lent this book to me.  It's not one I'd normally pick up to buy (I was lent Marley and Me which I liked but I got a bit sick of the schmaltz) but I'm glad I read this one. I am reluctant to say "I love cats" in case you think I'm a mad cat lady but I kind of do. My own cat, Rosie, is one of the friendliest cats you will ever meet. In fact she's more like a dog than a cat - I shall give her her very own post soon. So I had a bit of an affinity with James Bowen, Bob's "owner".

James, formally homeless and a recovering drug addict found the injured Bob in his stairwell, he nursed him back to health and they have been inseparable ever since. James was a busker and Bob tripled his day's takings as people were so taken with him. James then went on to sell the Big Issue magazine which is where his literary agent first spotted them.

The adventures James recounts are really heart warming. It's as though the pair were meant to be together - despite James trying to set Bob back into the wilds of Tottenham, he kept coming back and even followed him across the mega busy Tottenham High Road and hopped on a bus to Covent Garden. Bob even managed to get back to James through London when they became separated. James decided to come off of methadone for Bob's sake and the chapters which describe this are some of the best in the book. Not only do you get an insight into what its like to get clean from drugs, but also the love the cat and James have for each other. It is clear that without Bob, James would probably not have got free from drugs and would possibly be using again.

The book shows how wonderful it is to have the unconditional love from a pet, be it a cat or a dog. We are all in the habit of humanising animals (there's a word for it, but I cant remember it!) and James sort of does this in the book by imagining what Bob is thinking in our terms. But to be fair, I often do this for Rosie (my neighbour even has a voice for her cat - she's promised she'll work on one for Rosie too so I can't wait to hear it!). The only down side of the book was the way James comes across with a huge chip on his shoulders. To be fair, he does admit this himself, but it starts to grate on you when you realise that most of the time he thinks people are out to get him...but I guess living on the streets, having to defend yourself and living hand to mouth will do that to you.

Bob is now a media sensation and can be found all over You Tube. Take a look at their interview on bbc in March and they can be found at The Angel station in London selling the Big Issue, but only I imagine until Hollywood come calling. Long may they be together.

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