The larky Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is just the latest in a line of mildly eccentric individuals who have cheered up miserable Londoners amid the grey and the gloom of our capital city, now officially declared by economists to be a separate country from the rest of the UK.
In the grim years following the Second World War, there were Sir Bernard and Lady Docker, a couple-about-town whose enthusiastically reported habits of conspicuous consumption, lavish parties (following a visit to a coalmine, Norah Docker (an ex-showgirl) once invited all the miners to a champagne reception…) and his-and-hers gold-plated Daimler limousines, both enraged, yet somehow heartened, the downtrodden Brits as we coped stoically with killer smog and the seemingly unending rationing of scarce food and clothing.
Then there was Prince Monolulu, a flamboyant racetrack tipster who – long before the faintly disturbing John McCririck came on the scene – adopted blackface and a large feathered headdress. He was in fact an actor called Peter McKay, but he had the distinction of having been born in the West Indies, so his impersonation of Fijian royalty fed happily into the general racism of the natives.
But who could forget Stanley Green? In the 1960s, ‘Protein Man’, as he became known, affected a large and profusely informative sandwich-board and was a familiar figure, wandering up and down Oxford Street, proclaiming the message that proteinacious foods such as meat, eggs and peanut butter were the source of many of Mankind’s worst excesses – among them, lust and violence.
Shocked by the sexual obsessions of his fellow wartime Royal Navy volunteers, Green – the son of a bottle-stop manufacturer’s clerk (we are not making this up!) – adopted a diet of porridge and lentils and died in 1993, at the age of 73. Not, one hopes, of flatulence. His stand against the evils of protein frequently led to abuse from the public, and he was arrested for obstruction on several occasions. He remained undeterred to the end.
The reason I have related this story (for whose minor supporting details I am as usual indebted to Wikipedia) is quite simply, that a new report has finally vindicated Stanley Green. Protein is indeed inimical to human health and happiness. My old school chum, Dr Valter Longo, Professor of Biogerontology (the study of ageing) at the University of Southern California has controversially likened a high-protein diet in adults to smoking 20 cigarettes a day, in terms of the additional cancer risk. Meat, egg and nut proteins are, he suggests, vital to growth in children, but are definitely to be given up in adult life as they encourage the unbridled lust of cancer cells.
I knew it! After my carnivorous son moved out to go to university, his sharpened fangs trailing the blood of many undercooked beasts down the garden path, I reverted last year to a diet mainly of brown toast and marmalade. Thus enfeebled in mind and body, I have entertained barely one thought of carnal lust ever since.
I mean, would you?
The Sun also rises
On the subject of lust, I have respectfully declined a request to add my name to a feminist petition against the publication of photographs of healthy, near-naked young ladies on Page 3 of The Sun newspaper.
Another great London character of recent years, Mrs Cynthia Payne, dubbed by the press ‘The Streatham Madam’, was firmly of the opinion that the quicker you ‘despunked’ a punter, the easier it became to control his lusts.
I feel that feminists have seriously underestimated the power The Sun’s Page 3 is giving them over the male of the species. Why, they don’t even need to be personally involved.