ISSUE 1131

Exclusive tail from James Bowen and Street Cat Bob! The Christmas that changed everything

Bob is a phenomenon. He and his owner – our friend and former Big Issue seller James Bowen – have sold several million copies of their rags to riches books. They have a social media paw-print that’d make many organisations purr with delight. We have an exclusive new piece from James telling of the Christmas on the streets that changed their worldview.

Our Letter To My Younger Self is with acting doyenne Sheila Hancock. Some great lines about becoming a battling survivor due to experience as an evacuee, about early crippling insecurity and about dealing with the “agony” of grief – especially after the death of John Thaw. A moving read.

John Bird, meanwhile, has a marvellously picaresque piece considering time spent on the road in the last 12 months touring his show.

Spot The Ball – as if you needed reminding. It’s here. In The Big Issue. It’s starting to rival the Crossword for entries. And we get a lot for the Crossword.

“Carson is Ringo. Tom Branson is Paul. Barrow is John. I’m… ” You know Christmas is close when Hugh Bonneville is making merry with the characters in Downton. There is also something from Michelle Dockery about Lady Mary on Tinder…

Brendan O’Neill is back. In strident form, he takes aim at those who would wrap children in cotton wool and over-protect them from reality.

Business editor Dominic Laurie looks at a novel means to help those on lowest incomes afford council tax and what we could all learn from Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.

Hello/Goodbye. This week, our featured vendor on page 3 and final page is Mark Parkinson, in Norwich. After some struggles, he’s working things out.

In our Pause section, Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller explains the best way into appreciating William Morris. In My Peccadillo, actor Stephen McGann explains why he’s obsessed with historical archives.

Also, there are a huge number of Christmas giveaways too. And much more…