Whenever I’m being asked who my heroes are I’m quick to name Joanne Rowling and James Bowen and Bob the cat. Now I’m sure all of you will be familiar with the first name in that list but what about the other two? And, more importantly, why do I count a cat among my personal heroes? Well, if by any chance you’ve been following the Sunday Times bestseller list over the past year you will probably have heard of James Bowen and his ginger tomcat Bob. Their first book “A Street Cat Named Bob” has been in the Top Ten for a whole year and there’s even a rumour about a forthcoming movie adaptation. Twice there has been an article about the author James Bowen and his ginger tom Bob in the Sunday Times and numerous other online and print publications have written about them, around the world.
What is the book about, then?
When James Bowen, a formerly homeless busker and drug addict, came home one evening from another busking session in Covent Garden to his flat in North London, he befriended a ginger tom that was hiding in his building. He’d been attacked by another animal and as James couldn’t find his owner anywhere close by he decided to take him in. He literally gave every last penny of his meagre income to have the cat treated by a vet and to buy medicine for him. And he gave him a name: Bob.
Once Bob was well again, James wanted to let him go on his way as by then he’d concluded that he was probably a stray, but Bob had made his choice and had decided to stay with James. From then on he not only followed James down the road to the bus stop, he even travelled with him to Central London, where the pair quickly became a sort of tourist attraction to the Covent Garden crowds. While James continued with his busking or selling the street magazine “The Big Issue”, Bob sat at his feet, watching the world go by.
After a while the first YouTube videos of the unusual pair appeared and their fan base grew. However, it was only after a literary agent, who passed the two of them every day on her way into work, had decided to approach James and ask him if he wanted to write a book about their story, that those few videos turned into a phenomenon that incorporated not only a No. 1 bestseller, but also a Facebook page, a Twitter account, numerous TV appearances, an official fan club (The Streetcats), a foto blog with pictures of the book taken at various locations around the world, a special children’s edition of the book that was released earlier this year, a forthcoming sequel to the book that’s coming out in July 2013 and a possible movie adaptation in the vein of “Marley & Me”.
After this phenomenal year James and Bob haven’t stopped going out busking but ever since the first royalties came through they can now take things a bit easier. James has been clean for quite some time now and it really shows when you compare those recent TV appearances with videos from the “early days”. Life is finally treating him well and the friendship with Bob has definitely changed his life quite dramatically. The gratitude and affection that connects those two best friends is clearly visible for everyone. They have found each other at just the right time in both of their lives. To put it in James’s words: “It’s karma!”
I have been following those two since 2010, when I read this blog post about them and watched the video that was linked to in there. On July 11th, 2012 I finally had the chance to meet them on my trip to London (see pic below) and it is still one of the best days of my life! James is such a warm, sincere and affectionate man and Bob is simply amazing (and he has the softest, silkiest fur I have ever felt!). I’m very excited to see what else there is to come for them!