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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 14 April 2013

"A street cat named Bob" by James Bowen

Drug-addicted busker James discovers a stray ginger tom. He starts to look after the cat and takes him busking. As their relationship develops, James begins to journey away from the chaos of his former life.

This book is a charming chronicle of the relationship between a man and the incredible character Bob the cat. You follow them through the highs and lows of street life. Will Bob get ill? Will Bob be attacked by dogs? Will James go back on drugs? Will he be arrested for illegal busking? Will Bob run off?

You realise the fundamental insecurity of living on the streets. Even when things are going well, busking makes James £60 in a day. When James decides to go legal and sell the Big Issue, money is even tighter. I had not realised that a Big Issue seller buys the magazines for £1 each to sell them for £2. Any unsold magazines are worthless. So a Big Issue vendor has to carefully calculate how many magazines he will sell and make sufficient profit to pay for any over-confidence. They also have to sell a lot of magazines to make a decent living.

And they are on the streets in all weathers and get over-looked and scorned and insulted by people like me who think that they are work-shy and should get a 'proper' job.

I was amazed at how much this simple story meant to me. It is told with raw, fresh honesty. Sometimes such a naive narrative grates. For example, three times in three pages he use the phrase "worried sick". I was a little surprised to discover that Bowen did have a co-author who is a professional writer. It reminded me of Forty Years Catching Smugglers, another autobiography, although Street Cat is much much much better written. It must be difficult to know when to edit and polish and when to leave it raw.

Bob is also celebrated on YouTube, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl2nBSqpsRA

This was a simple, honest and touching tale which penetrated the defences of even a cynical old cat-hater like myself.

Delightful. April 2013; 275 pages

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