About Time You Went: To The Gun Club SalonBy Tom Stevenson
I used to get my haircut at a salon. One of those high street chains where they cut the air around your head for forty five minutes and a plump woman named Cheryl tells you about her child’s appalling struggle with dyslexia. A friend of mine’s Dad likes to nip this chat in the bud.
Cheryl: “So doing anything nice for the weekend?”
David “I’d rather not talk”
The saving grace of these establishments is the head massage.
The skinny tattooed girl who can’t be trusted with cutting real hair yet firmly, but gently digs her fingers into your scalp, tickles that inexplicably erogenous zone on the back of your head, kneads the shampoo in concentric circles and you sit there wondering if you can keep it all in or if you’ll have to audibly and visibly express the intolerable pleasure you’re experiencing. You know it’s being done to induce pleasure, but you can’t let out a lustful moan. You have to pretend this is how you always apply shampoo at home and it’s just nice to pay someone else to do it for you. And for those of us who have tried it at home, we all know it’s just not the same.
At long last, I have found someone I enjoy talking to whilst they cut my hair. So we decided to conduct an interview whilsts he was cutting my hair. Meet Tim Whiting. Tim has offered readers of About Time 20% of their first cut.
Tim, why are we here?
Oh s**t. You mean the big big question as in the meaning of life or Gun Club?
Oh right I thought you were going deep from the start. So I was going to this kids christening and I got a lift with my friend Al. “Hows hairdressing?” he said “Yeah it’s alright. Don’t love where I’m working” and he said “Well, I’ve just bought a pub and was wandering if you want to open your own salon above it.” And I just said yes. Yes I do want to do that. It’s just happened by chance. I just know great people who do awesome things and I’ve just fallen into the wonderful web of that network.
That was very lucky. How was the christening?
Always are. Gretchen Wieners’s hair was full of secrtets. What is hair actually full of?
Memories. People come in for a haircut when they want a fresh start, when they want a massive upheaval when they’re making big changes in their life. Your hair is a literal timeline of your life. Forensic scientists could analyse what you’ve eaten, if you’ve been a bit naughty. So if you have painful memories, chop your hair off and rid yourself of those memories.
Right. I didn’t know that. What is the nicest thing that has ever happened in here?
I’ve had people cry before
Why is that nice?
No like in the good sense. You know when someone’s trying to hold in an emotion that their face is emotionless. I had this one client as she blurted out “It’s just my sisters always bullied me for being the ugly one and now I feel pretty.”
Oh my god my heart. Bless you. That is so sweet and a lot of people say that’s why they get into beauty industries because they want to make people feel better about the way that they look. I never thought that, but sometimes along the way you have those moments that hair does transcend into something massively powerful in someone’s life.
If you cut someone’s hair a few times and then they stop coming back in do you take that personally?
We’re in a little box in this massive city called London in this humungous world. It’s probably not about me.
My favourite thing is when someone has veered away and then they come back and they’re really sorry. When they come back and I say haven’t seen you for a while and they say yeah sorry I tried somewhere else but I’m not gonna do it again.
But I don’t like it when hairdressers say that your last cut was shit and I just think why put all that negativity out into the world.
I just like making things really comfortable and moving as much of the distance between client and hairdresser and working together.
Cool. I really like it here, but I haven’t put my finger on why. What’s so special about Gun Club?
I think this place helps people disconnect from the outside world. We’re on the second floor, off the high street, above a pub. We’re not a high street, what do you want? In/out back on the busy streets. What I really like is when people the vibe and stick around after they’ve had their hair cut just to continue chatting.
I guess the whiskey helps
Yeah we should tell people about that, shouldn’t we?
I’d want to know
So when customers come in I’m going to offer them a whisky cocktail – an Old Fashioned, Whisky Sour…With those cylinder ice balls! I love them. So the vibe is “Welcome to my living room.”
What if I don’t want whisky? What if I want Prosecco?
We were always going to be unashamed in what we were. Its not like you’re coming here for whisky, we’re just going to make you one because we want to.
(Tim pours me a whiskey)
And another special thing! We’re animal and eco friendly. All of our products are now Davines. All factories powered by renewable energy and they don’t test products on animals. The products are great. There’s no drop in quality at all.
Can I have all your left over Bumble and Bumble then?
You can have the rest of this spray.
I’m happy with that. That was more than I was expecting.
(Tim dries my hair and we have a break in chatting. )
(Suddenly he starts talking about something we wern’t talking about)
Lots of people are taught in a way that you put shapes onto the head. Its very technical. This whole idea of classical beauty and fitting certain cuts within certain proportions. But, I’m delighted because there’s a new age of embracing imperfections and we’re admiring it. You don’t have to stick to the rules, but you do have to think about that person waking up every morning with 10 minutes to style their hair and it is my responsibility to give someone the cut that fits them and allows them to feel comfortable every day rather than spending all day wishing their hair would do something else or look a different way.
Do you get better at cutting peoples hair the more times you cut it?
You just have to explain what you’re doing. Ask questions and it will work out well for you. You ask lots of questions.
That’s because I’m interviewing you
Yeah but you’re just quizzical anyway. There’s a lot more openness about how you communicate. I want to be in a dialogue like that with the people whose hair I cut. What didn’t you like? How can we improve this? It’s nice to push to make good things better.
Aw, that’s a good note to end on
Yeah. Did I say anything good?
I have spoken more to you today than all my other hairdressers put together and this is the best cut I’ve ever had.
And Remember it’s 20% off your first cut if you tell Tim you heard about Gun Clun through About Time