I think I first heard about Bob when I came across the book at a bookstore while visiting Britain – that or my mother-in-law bought us one of the books as a present. Either way, the story of a stray cat who one day showed up in the kitchen of a formerly homeless recovering addict, is better than reality TV. In fact, after writing several successful books, James Bowen’s life was made into a movie last year called “A Street Cat Named Bob.” Lest you think this is some little movie (though it is), they did sign a couple big stars – Anthony Head (aka ‘Giles’ of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame) and Joanne Froggatt (aka ‘Anna’ on “Downton Abbey”). Not sure if the film ever played stateside, but is available for streaming on Amazon.com for $4.99, so it’s definitely worth a watch.
In a nutshell, after determining that Bob didn’t belong to anyone else, James adopts Bob (or rather, Bob adopts James) and Bob becomes his sidekick when James is busking or selling The Big Issue. Busking is when you legally (with a license) or illegally pick a spot in a touristy area and show off your talent for money. Some people coat themselves entirely in silver or gold paint and then pretend to be a statue all day, whereas others juggle fire sticks, or in the case of James, play songs on the guitar. The Big Issue is a magazine covering current news issues (esp the plight of the homeless) sold by homeless or other low income residents of London and other major cities throughout Britain. The seller buys a stack of magazines at a percentage of the cover price, then proceeds to sell their stack. Anything unsold can’t be returned. When I lived in Britain I regularly bought the magazine (which only cost a pound then) which was a good read and good value.
After having read all three of James’ books, I can tell you that the movie of his life sugar coats things a bit, but a bit of creative license is par for the course when a book is adapted for the screen. Still, the screenwriter did a decent job and I assume James gave his blessing. In fact, he even has a cameo towards the end of the film, so that was quite cool. He gets his book autographed and says to the actor, “I feel like I lived your life,” or something to that effect.
Hence, if you’re looking for something to read or a good film to stream, especially if you’re a cat lover like I am, then you can’t go wrong with the whole “Bob” series.