My London Odyssey

Monday 10 March 2014

Living on Isle of Coll couldn't be more remote or idyllic and I love it very much. However, I've always loved cities and London does it for me right now. I like to do less known things while there − it's vast varied and impressive. I'm sure it would take a lifetime to explore its hidden gems and cosmopolitan cultures.

Music is never far from my mind and my roots as a young musician, playing drums and percussion in the early 70s and through the decades that followed, have stood me in good stead. It is still something I have a passion for to this day.

In particular, melody rock turns me on, it's what I enjoy playing most, although I have played in a multitude of bands covering nearly every genre of music in my time.

One of my favourite places to hang out is London’s Hard Rock Cafe. I find the atmosphere and ambience electrifying. The memorabilia on display and the great rock music reminds me of my young days playing in bands. The buzz in there is terrific, and the staff are as cool as they come. An American-style burger and a Hard Rock Café cocktail or two, or five, is for me a great way to spend an extended lunchtime. I’m proud to say that they even follow me on Twitter.

Three of my favourite things came together for me during one of my 2012 London forays. Those were: a cat; a street musician, and a book. Namely, A Street Cat Named Bob. I had bought the afore-mentioned book in July and was completely captivated by this charming and uplifting true story. It's the story of a down-on-his-luck street musician and drug addict who meets a down-on-his-luck street cat in London, and the two of them eventually drag themselves from the gutter and get their lives back on track.

    • The Hard Rock Cafe
    • The Hard Rock Cafe, London

    • Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia - Keith Richards Guitar
    • Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia - Keith Richards Guitar

I decided while on my next trip to the city in December of that year, that I would check out some of the places mentioned in the book, hoping to catch a glimpse of the intrepid bedfellows. Astonishingly, I got lucky on the first day of my search and came across them at the bottom of Neal Street just by Covent Garden Tube Station. As usual, James Bowen and his best mate, Bob the ginger tom cat, were attracting much attention from the crowds of Londoners and tourists alike, mostly younger women, and not so young women, which is the category I definitely fall into.

James was playing his guitar and singing and Bob was sitting by his side enjoying all the attention. I managed to sidle up to James and get a wee chat with him and he even let me stroke Bob and take a few photos. We now follow each other on Twitter. When I read his book earlier in the year I was so taken by it that I immediately read it for a second time. What struck me though, was that their story in a strange way had similarities to my own life story. They were down on their luck with no light at the end of the tunnel; they faced prejudice at the hands of an unforgiving society. However, they were eventually thrown a lifeline by a small number of people who were willing to give them a chance.

For me, this felt so familiar, all of those scenarios rang so true to me. So, a man and a cat on the streets of London had faced the same relentless discrimination and prejudice as I had faced in my troubled and complicated life, albeit in completely different circumstances.

In my next blog I'll talk more about my writing experience and how things are progressing with the book.

Speak soon,

    • A street cat named Bob
    • James dotes on his best mate Bob

    • A street cat named bob
    • A street cat named Bob, with James