Authors: James Bowen
About the Author
James Bowen is the author of the bestselling
A Street Cat
. He found Bob the cat in 2007 and the pair have
been inseparable ever since. They both live in north London.
The World According to Bob
First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © James & Bob Limited and Connected Content Limited
Illustrations © Dan Williams
The right of James Bowen and Garry Jenkins to be identified as the
Authors of the Work has been asserted by them in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
All My Patients are Under the Bed: Memoirs of a Cat Doctor
by Louis J. Caruiti. Published by Fireside, 1985
Hardback ISBN 978 1 444 77755 0
Trade paperback ISBN 978 1 444 77756 7
Ebook ISBN 978 1 444 77759 8
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
For all those who devote their lives to helping the homeless and animals in distress
There is something about the presence of a cat . . . that seems to take the bite out of being alone
If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat
It had been one of those days, the type where anything that could go wrong had gone wrong.
It had begun when my alarm had failed to go off and I’d overslept which meant that my cat, Bob, and I were already running late when we set off to catch the bus near my flat in Tottenham, north London on our way to Islington, where I sold the homeless magazine
The Big Issue
. We were barely five minutes into our journey when things went from bad to worse.
Bob was sitting in his usual position, half-asleep on the seat next to me when he suddenly lifted his head, looking around suspiciously. In the two years since I’d met him, Bob’s ability to sniff trouble had been pretty near infallible. Within moments the bus was filled with an acrid, burning smell and the panicked driver was announcing that our journey was being ‘terminated’ and we all had to get off. ‘Immediately.’
It wasn’t quite the evacuation of the
, but the bus was three quarters full so there was a lot of chaotic pushing and jostling. Bob didn’t seem in a rush so we left them to it and were among the last to get off, which, as it turned out, was a wise decision. The bus may have smelled awful, but at least it was warm.
We had come to a halt opposite a new building site from where icy winds were whipping in at a rate of knots. I was glad that, while dashing out of my flat, I’d hurriedly wrapped a particularly thick, woollen scarf around Bob’s neck.
The crisis turned out to be nothing more serious than an overheated engine but the driver had to wait for a bus company mechanic to fix it. So, amid much grumbling and complaining, about two dozen of us were left standing on the freezing cold pavement for almost half an hour while we waited for a replacement bus.
The late morning traffic was terrible, so by the time Bob and I hopped off at our destination, Islington Green, we had been on the road for more than an hour and a half. We were now seriously late. I was going to miss the lunchtime rush, one of the most lucrative times for selling the magazine.
As usual, the five minute walk to our pitch at Angel tube station was a stop-start affair. It always was when I had Bob with me. Sometimes I walked with him on a leather lead, but more often than not we travelled with him perched on my shoulders, gazing curiously out at the world, like the lookout on the prow of a ship. It wasn’t something people were used to seeing every day of the week, so we could never walk more than ten yards without someone wanting to say hello and stroke him, or take a photograph. That didn’t bother me at all. He was a charismatic, striking-looking fellow and I knew he relished the attention, provided it was friendly. Unfortunately, that wasn’t something that could be guaranteed.
The first person to stop us today was a little Russian lady who clearly knew as much about handling cats as I did about reciting Russian poetry.
, so pretty,’ she said, collaring us in Camden Passage, the alleyway of restaurants, bars and antique shops that runs along the southern part of Islington Green. I stopped to let her say hello properly, but she immediately reached up to Bob and tried to touch him on the nose. Not a clever move.
Bob’s instant reaction was to lash out, fending her off with a wild wave of his paw and a very loud and emphatic
. Fortunately he didn’t scratch the lady, but he did leave her a little shaken so I had to spend a few minutes making sure she was all right.
‘It OK, it OK. I only want to be friend,’ she said, looking as white as a sheet. She was quite elderly and I was worried that she might keel over from a heart attack. ‘You should never do that to an animal, Madam,’ I told her, smiling and being as polite as possible. ‘How would you react if someone tried to put their hands on your face? You’re lucky he didn’t scratch you.’
‘I no mean to upset him,’ she said.
I felt a bit sorry for her.
‘Come on you two, let’s be friends,’ I said, trying to act as the peacemaker.
Bob was reluctant at first. He’d made his mind up. But he eventually relented, allowing her to run her hand, very gently, along the back of his neck. The lady was very apologetic – and very hard to shake off.
‘I very sorry, very sorry,’ she kept saying.
‘No problem,’ I said, by now desperate to get going.
When we finally extricated ourselves and got to the tube station I put my rucksack on the pavement so that Bob could spread out on it – our regular routine – then started laying out the stack of magazines I’d bought from the local
The Big Issue
co-ordinator on Islington Green the previous day. I’d set myself a target of selling at least a couple of dozen today because, as usual, I needed the money.
I was soon being frustrated again.
Ominous, steely clouds had been hovering above London since mid-morning and before I’d managed to sell a single magazine the heavens opened, forcing Bob and me to take shelter a few yards away from our pitch, in an underpass near a bank and some office buildings.
Bob is a resilient creature, but he really hates the rain, especially when it was of the freezing cold variety like today. He almost seemed to shrink in it. His bright marmalade coloured coat also seemed to turn a little bit greyer and less noticeable. Unsurprisingly, fewer people than usual stopped to make a fuss over him so I sold fewer magazines than usual too.
With the rain showing no sign of relenting, Bob was soon making it clear that he didn’t want to hang around. He kept shooting me withering looks and, like some kind of ginger hedgehog, scrunched himself up into a ball. I got the message, but knew the reality. The weekend was approaching and I needed to make enough money to keep us both going. But my stack of magazines was still as thick as when I’d arrived.
As if the day wasn’t going badly enough, midway through the afternoon a young, uniformed police officer started giving me grief. It wasn’t the first time and I knew it wouldn’t be the last, but I really didn’t need the hassle today. I knew the law; I was perfectly entitled to sell magazines here. I had my registered vendor ID and unless I was causing a public nuisance, I could sell magazines at this spot from dawn ’til dusk. Sadly, he didn’t seem to have anything better to do with his day and insisted on searching me. I had no idea what he was frisking me for, presumably drugs or a dangerous weapon, but he found neither.
He wasn’t too pleased about that so he resorted to asking questions about Bob. I explained that he was legally registered to me and was micro-chipped. That seemed to worsen his mood even more and he walked off with a look almost as grim as the weather.