|This is my contribution to Round Fourteen of ABC Wednesday. For the fifth time I am focusing on people – some famous, some infamous and some half-forgotten, but all with a tale to tell.|
Born in 1915, Green came to the conclusion that it was a high protein diet that made people lustful and aggressive and that a low protein diet would make for ‘better, kinder, happier people’.
In 1968 he gave up his job as a civil servant and took his campaign to the streets. Armed with placards and leaflets printed on his own press at his council flat in Northolt, Green would walk up and down Oxford Street explaining why the sex drive is perilously heightened by fish, meat, cheeseburgers, beans and – crucially – by sitting down.
Green believed that the world would be a better place if people ate less and took more exercise and he practised what he preached with his own diet of porridge, home-baked bread and barley water mixed with powdered milk.
His beliefs would seem to stem from his time in the Royal Navy which affected him deeply. Green was shocked by the other sailors obsession with sex and later said ‘I was astonished when things were said quite openly – what a husband would say to his wife when home on leave’. And he put this behaviour down to too much protein.
Green became one of the better known eccentrics after he became a full-time human billboard to promote his ‘protein wisdom’.
He would spend six days a week on his mission, cycling the twelve miles from his home to spend the day among the shoppers, not returning until 6:30pm. Green would work overtime on Saturdays, taking his message to the cinema queues in Leicester Square.
Green would retire to bed at 12:30 after saying a prayer. As he told the Sunday Times, it was ‘quite a good prayer, unselfish too. It is a sort of acknowledgement of God, just in case there happens to be one’.
The pamphlet went through 52 editions between 1973 and 1983 and he would sell twenty a day on weekdays and fifty on Saturday. Over the years he sold over 87,000 copies, but his 382 page version of Eight Passion Proteins was rejected by Oxford University Press in 1971.
His letters, diaries, pamphlets and placards were given to the Museum of London and other artefacts to the Gunnersbury Park Museum.
Green’s printing press featured in Cornelia Parker’s 1995 exhibition, ‘The Maybe,’ at the Serpentine Gallery, alongside Robert Maxwell’s shoelaces and one of Winston Churchill’s cigars.