G is for Stanley Green

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.

Stanley GreenFor twenty-five years, Stanley Green led a one man campaign warning Londoners against the perils of protein and passion.

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.

Stanley Green on Oxford StreetGreen 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’.

Eight Passion ProteinsSunday wasn’t exactly a day of rest as that was when Green would print his pamphlet ‘Eight Passion Proteins’ on his rather noisy printing press.

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.

Stanley Green's PlacardGreen died in 1993 aged 78 and the Daily Telegraph, Guardian and the Times all published obituaries to commemorate his eccentricity.

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.

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7 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 26th February 2014

    Ah, my cousin Stanley!

  • Carver 26th February 2014

    I’m surprised I’ve never heard of him. Definitely a true eccentric. It’s particularly wild to think of him taking his campaign to the streets in 1968 considering that 1967 was the summer of love (at least it was in San Francisco, CA, U.S.). When I think of that period of time (I was a pre- teenager but had older sisters who I copied) I think of slogans like “make love not war” so Stanley Green’s rather different campaign taking place during the same time period is interesting to me. Carver, ABC-W

  • Protein Rich Pudding 26th February 2014

    In past centuries – long before refrigeration – long before the potato or rice – I wonder what ordinary English peasants ate. Yes there would have been protein but possibly infrequently. Mostly the peasants’ diet would have been vegetarian as has been suggested by the contents of the stomachs of long-preserved bog people. Nonetheless, I think Stanley Green’s problem was that he was shy with women. He should have instead carried a placard saying “I need a good shag”.

  • Nonnie USA 26th February 2014

    I never heard of Green, but I was busy taking care of 3 babies, each born just a year apart in that decade! I seldom eat meat now, but I’m not a vegan. interesting post! oh, to have that much passion in my life now.

  • lesliebc 27th February 2014

    Wow! I’ve never heard of him but obviously he left his mark in London. I wonder if he’d eaten more protein whether he’d have lived longer.

    abcw team

  • Trevor Rowley 2nd March 2014

    Goodness knows what Stanley and his chums in the Royal Navy might have been getting up to. According to George Melly it was all rum, bum and mouthorgan.

  • Douglas Macnaughtan 26th April 2014

    I was well used to seeing Stanley most days as I worked at the Bank of Scotland 332 Oxford Street from December 1968 to April 1973. If you search Google images for Stanley Green, you will see an excellent photo of him right outside my bank. He had a sing-songy sort of voice as he walked very slowly along Oxford Street, preaching his message. He was matched only by the Hari Chrishna followers who were equally persistant with their daily dancing and singing along Oxford Street at the same period. Happy days!


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