London Eccentrics: The Protein Man
Most Londoners who were familiar with Oxford Street between 1968 and 1993 will remember the Protein Man, who paraded up and down every day with his placard, ‘Less Passion from Less Protein’. I always liked the way ‘And sitting’ was dropped onto the end of his billboard as an afterthought. As he passed on his campaign to suppress desire, he would call out in a stentorian yet oddly lugubrious tone, ‘Buy my book’. The 14-page pamphlet in question was a shilling, eventually going to ten pence after the currency changed. I remember buying a copy and thinking it was utterly mad – I wish I’d kept it now. Apparently he sold 87,000 copies over 20 years.
His name was Stanley Green, and he was one of London’s great eccentrics. Green lived on porridge cooked on a Bunsen burner, bread, pulses, apples and barley water mixed with powdered milk. When he died at the age of 78 the Museum of London kept his placards and pamphlets. He had been horrified by the rising libido of sailors during his time in the navy, and after working at Selfridges gave up employment to become a full-time human billboard at the age of 53.
After repeatedly warning women that ‘You cannot deceive your groom that you are a virgin on your wedding night!’ he was repeatedly done for obstruction, but always returned to his spot. Green was unable to find a publisher for his only novel, Behind the Veil: More than Just a Tale, described as a ‘colourful account of the danger of passion and the possibility of redemption.’ Two other manuscripts remained unpublished, a 67-page text called Passion and Protein, and a 392-page version of Eight Passion Proteins. He certainly knew how to stick to a theme.