Last week, Street Cat Bob died.
The reaction from readers has been unprecedented. We have been inundated with messages of condolence, details about times of meetings and requests to pass thoughts on to James Bowen. James was Bob’s owner. But that is too reductive an explanation of that relationship.
As so many of our readers know, James was homeless and struggling with addiction when Bob, a stray cat, came into his life. That was in 2007 and they were inseparable from then until the end. Bob was James’ companion as he busked and then, working his way back, began to sell The Big Issue. Soon, their incredible bond gave James a new focus and eventually a book deal. The bestseller, in 2012, became a series of bestsellers. Then came the movie. Bob, James has said before and since, saved his life.
— Adam Boulton (@adamboultonSKY) June 16, 2020
And all the time, James and Bob used their growing global fame to keep attention on homeless issues. Bob brought new people to The Big Issue. When they read about us in the book, people who had been previously unaware became converts.
Over the last number of years we have frequently carried Bob on the cover of The Big Issue. In fact, Bob has been cover-star more than any other person (or indeed animal) – 10 times. And each time, our vendors rejoiced because Bob had star power. He guaranteed sales and guaranteed vendors would prosper. James didn’t have to do this. He could have taken his ball and gone home. He could have said, you’ve had your time with me, I’m now going to say yes to the money offers for exclusives. But it’s a testimony to the man that he didn’t. His story, and that of Bob, have been intertwined with the story of The Big Issue for a decade and more. We are proud to have James as a friend.