Michael Harding Blog - Stanley Green, The Protein Man
"Beware of the fun of indecent suggestions…"
Stanley Owen Green
The Protein Man
An image from the archives, posted initially in honour of the anniversary of the death of Stanley Owen Green, aka The Protein Man, the human billboard who walked London’s streets with placard held high, in the face of any weather or ridicule.
I followed him to Hanover Square one day, shared his bench and spoke to him. Gently fierce, I thought. More right than wrong.
As he spoke, I found myself wondering what rogue proteins I myself had ingested that morning. Muesli, banana, milk. Did he consider coffee a protein? I thought about it, but dared not ask for fear of proving myself entirely stupid.
I looked into his eyes and felt momentarily brave. I thought about Diane Arbus and wondered what had played out in her soul as she worked. Was she a hunter or fellow traveler of those she found? I wanted to assure him that I was the latter, but was too wracked by a sense of guilt; shackled, too, by youth.
Truth was, I knew that in his terms I had committed a great crime against my body and by extension, society. And I couldn’t deny that I had a secondary agenda, as Arbus no doubt had hers. But I let it get in my way and didn’t raise the camera to my eye as I should have.
He had sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. At least that’s what I thought, though I wondered what filling it could be that would conform to his strictures. Perhaps it was a salt and pepper sandwich, the kind my parents swore they’d eaten when there wasn’t enough money. It struck me as a very modest lunch, barely enough calories to keep him walking Oxford Street and see him home to Northolt.
Afterwards, I stumbled down the street, somewhat dazed, humbled by his certain belief, his quiet dignity, and clear-eyed honesty.
I bought his booklet, Edition 35 and numbered 69 000 out of the 87 000 he produced. I read it, I have it still. At the time, I found myself disinterested by claims that seemed entirely wild, such as: “Even a gentle person who stays long enough under the influence of sexual fascination BECOMES POWERLESS to resist it.”
It seemed a frantic claim in 1993, but timely in the shadow of darkness that Jeffrey Epstein and his lead procurer brought to the world since.
Stanley Owen Green
(22nd February 1915 – 4th December 1993)