Full disclosure. I’m a cat person. Not that dogs aren’t great, it’s just that cats are cooler than the law allows. So, it comes as no surprise that a movie that tells the true story of a ginger tabby street cat named Bob and James Bowen, a recovering heroin addict, and how they essentially ‘saved’ each others lives might just top my holiday movie list.
The story of a Street Cat Named Bob
In 2007, James Bowen was living in a supported housing program in Tottenham, London. One evening he returned home to find a ginger cat in the hallway of his building. It was that night when Bob and James unknowingly were to become inseparable companions on a journey that neither of them could have predicted. The recovering heroin addict/Covent Garden busker soon learned that Bob gave him a new found purpose to finally make something of his life. As Bowen freely admits today, “He is what I wake up for every day now… he’s definitely given me the right direction to live my life.”
It took Bob running off and becoming separated from James on the streets of London for Bowen to realize just what Bob meant to him and how important he would become in helping him take that final step in cleaning his life up. By this point in the book, I might just have opened the second box of kleenex. Bob and Bowen became fixtures in Covent Garden as Bowen sold The Big Issue, a newspaper written by professional journalists and sold by homeless individuals as a way to get off the streets and begin to make a living. Soon, the public began uploading videos of Bowen and Bob to YouTube and tourists would visit Covent Garden to see them.
Bob walks the red carpet for London premiere
Based on the first book in the trilogy of ‘Bob’ books, A Street Cat Named Bob, the movie by the same name stars Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans, Unbroken, Vicious), Ruta Gedmintas (The Tudors, The Guilty), Anthony Head, Joanne Froggatt (Life on Mars, Downton Abbey, The Dark Angel) and, of course, Bob plays himself in the film. After all, if that’s what it takes for the opportunity to meet the Duchess of Cambridge, well, you do what you have to do.
Besides the books A Street Cat Named Bob, The World According to Bob and A Gift from Bob, written with author Garry Jenkins, Bowen now dedicates his time to help numerous charities that involve homelessness, literacy, and animal welfare. Even it you aren’t a cat person, this is one movie that even non-cat people should make an effort to see.
Bob and James’ life today as global stars are a far cry from that fateful night in Tottenham. So much so, the first Bobfest was created in May. Attendees came from as far away as Brazil and Japan with the main focus of raising money for Blue Cross, the animal charity where James first took Bob.
It’s doubtful that Bob and James spend any time in Covent Garden any longer but I’m definitely going to make the effort to track them down next London visit to thank them for sharing their story. They should be pretty easy to spot on the street in London, don’t you think?