Protein Man

I went to the Museum of London. It’s a delight for a passionate Londoner such as me to take time to absorb a perspective on London’s highs (the London Olympics in ’08, ’48 and ’12 and the Great Exhibition in 1851) and lows (the Great Fire and the Blitz). I wandered around and suddenly I stopped; I saw something and was transported back to the first year I came to live in London, just as if the Good Doctor had opened the door to the Tardis, ushered me in and flown me back to March 1979.

I saw this

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The original sandwich board

Back then I worked, my two years training to be a lawyer, in a small firm just north of Oxford Street. Before I started cycling (about three months in) I caught a bus or the underground to and from Oxford Circus.

Every morning I walked west along Oxford Street and every evening I walked east. Commuting soon becomes a tedious necessity. But pretty much every evening I was given something to smile about.

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The top, Protein man

Somewhere, wandering up and down Oxford Street I would see Stanley Green – Protein man.

Sandwich boards were still prevalent back then. Most days a large bewhiskered man in a bowler hat, frock coat and pinstriped trousers stood on the corner of Hanover Street and Oxford Street thumping his dog-eared bible with his board demanding the end of the world; a series of be-pimpled youths loafed aimlessly nearer Bond Street tube offering a variety of services from ensuring a  gentleman dressed correctly to offering to help a gentleman undress improperly (though not in as many words).

But Protein Man was unique. He was adamant that the ills of the day were solely and exclusively the responsibility of an excess of protein in our diets. He was polite, discursive but unshakeable in his views. A protein zealot if you like. He handed out pamphlets, one of which I took to read on my way back to my shared flat on the Chelsea/Fulham borders – I was so on trend back then. And inside one of his targets was spelled out in his favoured CAPITALS

BEWARE THE POPULAR SAUSAGE

What on earth makes a sausage popular and why is it especially dangerous when compared say to the unpopular wurst or the ok-but-I-don’t-want-to-spend-the-evening-with-them saucission?

I never found out. But equally I never forgot Stanley with his Chairman Mao cap and corduroys. He was a small constant at a time of personal turbulence and uncertainty, working and living, as I was, in this huge nearly-but-not-quite-overwhelming city. He made me smile, he was a harmless eccentric and just by being present he told me in no uncertain terms that you didn’t have to fit into a mould, to be like others and survive here.

Acceptance can be a positive thing, a deliberate act but also an absence of rejection. Passive. With Stanley, he just wanted to be. He didn’t look for support especially or understanding. Just the ability to go on with his self allotted task without interference.

London gets a lot of things wrong, quite a lot of the time; it also gets the same things right. It’s knowing and gauche, bitchy and sympathetic, grim and glorious, fickle and loyal, friendly and frosty; but if it is to survive and thrive the one thing it must never lose is its tolerance of difference, of the Stanley Greens of this world.

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of course it’s a good look…

I wore a pink beard to the Blogger’s Bash on Saturday. A fifty eight year old man with dyed face-fuzz. Not a eyelid was blinked on my way there or on my way home. Why would they? This is London.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in Annual Bloggers' Bash, London, miscellany and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Protein Man

  1. Pingback: The 777 Challenge  | But I Smile Anyway...

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    And a very lovely pink beard it was too… Now sadly missed.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Who could forget the protein man? Now young men lounge on bollards encouraging us to eat it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jools says:

    I remember Protien Man. Lovely that he’s entered the public record like this. I wonder if Pink Beard Man will feature in The Londin Museum of 2065?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Lovely coordination with your shirt

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sacha Black says:

    My request for a purple beard for bash16 still stands!!

    Like this post. Camden is my fave place and basically for this reason. It’s a hive of diversity you can’t fail to fit in because no one does – every person there is different to the next and each as equally weird as the next. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. masgautsen says:

    Protein man sounds like a true original character!

    I’ve never been to the Museum of London before, sounds like I should put it on the list for a futre visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Helen Jones says:

    Beware the popular sausage’ really needs to be on a t-shirt 🙂 And I love the museum of London too, so much history in one building – it’s fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the fact that we remember and honour our ‘eccentrics.’ There is so much doom and gloom and negativity in the world, and we need more ‘characters’ to brighten up our lives.
    What about a yellow or gold beard for next year (nice cheery, sunshiny colour that just happens to be my favourite)!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. willowdot21 says:

    I remember the sandwich board men, Dad used to take me to Hyde Park Corner and we’d listen to the speakers at speakers corner! The Beard well as you say this is London everything goes!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Better late than never… | Stuart France

  12. roweeee says:

    Your protein man sounds amazing and sort of a bit like comfort food.
    Sydney had Arthur Stace who inscribed “Eternity” onto the footpaths of Sydney in chalk. Here’s his story here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Stace and http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stace-arthur-malcolm-8615
    I also have to tell you that I’ve been thinking of you as news of Australia’s cricket bloodbath came to hand. We should all be dressed in black and suitably mourning…even I who doesn’t follow the cricket!
    Anyway, I got wind of the antics of one of our local TV Presenters and wrote a post about our demise, which you’d enjoy…no doubt way too much for my liking! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/australian-cricket-it-couldnt-get-any-worse-but-then/
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Autism Mom says:

    I vote for a blue beard next year. No wait, dye your beard to match next year’s t-shirt. That’s the way to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jan says:

    We missed the London Museum when we were in London – went to the War Museum instead. Now I’m sorry we did!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Charli Mills says:

    London sounds a lot like the natural food cooperatives in the US. Comprised of many, including oddballs with strange ideas, they exist for a greater good.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Rachel M says:

    He was onto something. Too much meat in the diet is a bad thing. There’s a link between red meat and bowel cancer and it’s also a risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Not to mention the environmental degradation of farming livestock and their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions which, in case you’re not aware, is more than the entire transport sector – that’s all the cars, buses, trucks, planes, ships, and trains on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I agree about excess, but not about the removal of meat from our diet, (were you to be advocating any such thing!!). He wasn’t just against meat but against protein from fish or vegetables too. And his message was about aroused passions not bodily health. I understand about intensive farming both of cereals and meat and certainly would prefer a situation where it doesn’t exist. Even if I’m going to eat them I see no reason why they shouldn’t have as natural a life as possible in the interim. Personally I think pouring alcohol into our systems is more unnatural and more harmful than eating meat for which our bodies have been adapted over millennia.

      Like

      • Rachel M says:

        I don’t really think that because humans have done something for millennia is a good argument for continuing to do it. Although I agree that alcohol is probably not very good for us and I don’t drink the stuff, or at least, very rarely. And yes, I’m not agreeing with protein man, I was just taking the opportunity to bring up the message about meat (I bet you’ll never mention the stuff on your blog again!) which is that we can’t feed a population of 9 billion where everyone eats as much meat as we do in the developed world. It’s no sustainable. And while growing cereals also takes a toll on the environment, much of what is grown today is fed to farm animals for human consumption. These are cereals which could be fed directly to humans. It’s not a very efficient way to feed a large population and “it tastes yummy” just isn’t a very convincing argument.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Well I do see a need to reduce consumption all round but we will agree to differ on this issue. And my point about millennia is we are genetically designed to function better with a mixed diet and that is a good reason to continue. Oh and I won’t be able to resist raising meat again, just so we can have a debate, Rachel!

        Like

  17. trifflepudling says:

    I remember him starting up in the late 60s, and wondering what was so wrong with Passion. The bit about Sitting was an afterthought and was originally tacked onto the bottom of the board. I was more interested in steering my mother into C&A for a dress, having great style then as now, ahem. I can understand the sight of him being a reassuring anchor to you as a newbie.
    Aksherly, strictly speaking he had a placard – a sandwich board has two boards with the person as a filling. Sorry, meanie me to say that, must be hungover following glorious Ashes! Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Norah says:

    Gotta luv that pink beard! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I still say your pink beard was for Brighton & Hove Pride being held that day. I’m just so glad the colouring didn’t come off 🙂

    I don’t remember ‘Protein Man’ but I do remember ‘Man at C & A”, or as I called it “Man at Coats and andbags!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      I became the butt of an Arthur Smith joke on the subject of that catchphrase. The Textiliste knitted me this pullover which I wore to a stand up evening at Jongleurs near Clapham Junction. Arthur spotted me in the crowd and said ‘look at him, Wally at C&a’. Always thought it a cheap shot given I hadn’t even heckled him.

      Like

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