Back in 1995 and 1996, when I lived in Camden Town (North London), there was a man who walked around the Sainsbury's (a grocery store). Every time he saw someone, he would shout "The Best of Luck!" He might have three items in his shopping cart; if you saw him again a few minutes later, he might have nothing in his trolley (or he might have several completely different items). Once, he lost his voice. He just wandered the store looking sad (thought the employees seems gleeful). I saw him and shouted "The Best of Luck!" He beamed. After that, we greeted each other anytime we saw each other (with, of course, "The Best of Luck!").
When my lovely wife and I went to London last month, I heard a man at Camden Lock Market shout "The Best of Luck!" I turned around to find a young man telling a young woman about this local legend. She seemed skeptical. I assured her that the man was real.
I did a bit of research tonight on the 'net, and I have found that he is quite famous in the Camden and Finchley areas. His name seems to be Horace. British comedian Ray Peacock has a nice posting on his blog
that mentions Horace. Sadly, he is apparently quite mad and is given to angry and vulgar rants (directed mostly at young thugs who antagonize him by calling him Stanley). One site
suggests that Stanley is the name of his deceased brother who died tragically in a fire. There are even some horrible YouTube videos of Horace shouting obscenities. (If anyone wants to see this, search for "bum fight promo. fighting talk"; I will not post the link-- it's too sad.) I found several videos of him shouting obscenities, but none of him smiling and shouting his signature phrase. That's a sad reflection of the rest of us. I found one grainy picture of him online (below).
He may be nutters, but I liked him. The best of luck, Horace. God bless.
One last comment-- since I originally posted this blog entry, I've noticed a number of visits from readers who were googling words like "Horace," "Finchley," "Camden," and (or course) "The best of luck!" If you know of Horace or know more information, PLEASE post a comment. Thank you, and may you have the best of luck.
Labels: Camden, Finchley, Horace, The best of luck