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 Two other manuscripts remained unpublished, a 67-page text called Passion and Protein, and a 392-page version of Eight Passion Proteins.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.


6 comments on “London Eccentrics: The Protein Man”

  1. Vivienne says:

    I never bought his pamphlet, but regret this now. He was one of those institutions one takes for granted until too late. Must have seen him many times. There is a left-wing bookshop near Kings Cross that was selling copies of his poster – mean to buy that too. This time must take action!

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    In New York, we had Moon Dog who stood about Times Square and other high crossing centers. Dressed as a Viking and sang and wrote a bit of music. Every so often he’d appear on the radio to talk and perform. Eventually he moved to Europe and died in Sweden. These two would have made an interesting pair.

  3. Ken Mann says:

    This also explains the London student badge from this period that just said “More Protein”.

  4. jan says:

    Did n’t this guy live in Northolt or Ruislip somewhere ?

  5. nigeyb says:

    I have just discovered this website, and have yet to read any of your work, though will be reading “Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared” very soon, having heard about it via an online review of “King Dido”.

    That the first entry tagged “London” that I read on your splendid looking blog is about The Protein Man is a portent of great things. I remember him well, walking around the vicinity of Oxford Circus when I was a film messenger in the area in the late 1970s, and the memory of him evokes all kinds of magical, nostalgic feelings. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

  6. admin says:

    You do realise, Nigey, that you were a film messenger at the exact same time that I was? I think my book ‘Film Freak’ is tailor-made for you!

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