28 August 2007

The Best of Luck!

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.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Anna MR said...

Hei Doc, I posted about Horace a couple of days ago. I knew him (well, you know, in a manner of speaking) in the late eighties, when his signature (to the best of my recollection) wasn't "Best of Luck" but his uncanny ability to remember everybody's name, but he'd go mad if someone said "heads" to him. It must be the same Horace, though. I find his memory incredibly, incredibly sad, but then I'm that way inclined.

You mention having search hits for him. I've already had one, too. It's a strange world we live in, wouldn't you say, Doc?

I suppose there's only one way I can close this letter to you. Yes, best of luck.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived just off the High Road in North Finchley in '94/'95 and regularly saw the man himself. For the first few weeks of living there, I couldn't figure out why I used to hear the same voice, sometimes several times a day yelling out "The Best of Luck". I met the man himself and we used to share the same exchange on an almost daily basis whenever we passed on the street, "Alright Horace"? "Alright Geezer, the best of luck". We'd pass, there'd be a lag of about 5 seconds and then "THE BEST OF LUCK" would boom out. Never failed to put a smile on my dial that one. Schoolkids used to wind him up at times and this would produce his other stock-in-trade rant, but most of the time he was a happy camper

8:02 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I have worked in Camden for years, and hadn't seen him for a really long time. I assumed that he must (sadly) have died or something.

Imagine my delight not 10 minutes ago when i was walking around Sainsbury's and heard that glorious phrase echoing around the aisles.

I left a happy man, safe in the knowledge that the 'best of luck' man was in fact alive and well.

8:37 AM  
Blogger mcnelson said...

I worked at Vshop (formerly Our Price) in North Finchley, and Horace was a regular visitor. I got to know him quite well over my tenure and developed a small but meaningful relationship with Horace; when he found out I was leaving he bought me a leaving card which contained 4 passport photos of himself, and gave me a brace of Crayon pictures he often drew outside McDonalds; there were about 40 of them, and they all seemed to revolve around the concept of "1 boy (doing something) on a sunny day". Stuff like "1 Boy looking at ladders on a sunny day". I knew the trigger word and would also try to intervene when he started ranting, as the simplest of attention would usually bring him back down. He was a very cool chap, and would always brighten my day.

4:44 AM  
Blogger demidemon said...

Horrace has lived in Finchley for over 30 years, i have known him since i was in nappies. Check out the facebook group "Horrace of Finchley" for more info.
He was still happy and smiling last weekend (Nov 13th 09) outside KFC in Finchley. wishing everyone "the best of luck". Theres nasty rumours on FB that horrace has been attacked and seriously hurt.. I hope these are unfounded as he is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. A TRUE GENTLE GIANT.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this site after after googling 'the best of luck camden'. I remember seeing him very regularly in Camden Town in the late 90's, specifically around the Sainsburys. Always used to shout 'the BEST of luck!'.

Also, there was another black geezer who used to walk up and down the middle of the road outside Sainsburys Camden, in a kind of dance-trance, arms flailing about. Anyone remember him?

11:47 AM  
Blogger Ola said...

I lived in camden and met this man in numerous occations at sainsburys, he always had his cart filled with bread. shouting "the BEST of luck". glad I found this page. ..

one midsummer eve, in northern sweden, I went to a horse race. in the last run for the night, there was this horse called "The Best of Luck" I played all of my money on this horse. Knowing that it must be a sign that some random dude told me about this in Sainburys all these years. And the horse won. It gave me 20 times what I bet. Midsummer miracle.

3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REST IN PEACE HORACE
He was a talking landmark who never failed to make people smile with he's trademark
"the best of luck "
If you want to see him as we all remember him
Go to MONGONW1 on YouTube
God bless ya Horace and to all who have met him
(ALL TOGETHER NOW) THE BEST OF LUCK !
peace MONGO

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REST IN PEACE HORACE
He was a talking landmark who never failed to make people smile with he's trademark
"the best of luck "
If you want to see him as we all remember him
Go to MONGONW1 on YouTube
God bless ya Horace and to all who have met him and..
(ALL TOGETHER NOW) THE BEST OF LUCK !
peace MONGO

3:12 PM  

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