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John is well known in these parts. We are sat in his hair salon on Columbia road in London’s vibrant east-end, where we’re continuously waved at by passers by. He’s originally from Liverpool, but his skill set has sent him all over the world working with people like Peter Lindbergh, Trevor Sorbie and Christy Turlington. In 2000 John traded the glitz and the glamour for the (not so) quiet life with his young family and started his own business. We drank strong coffee, listened to David Bowie and chatted about the good old days and how CBD has worked wonders for his Arthritis.
I got into the hair game because I couldn’t play football to the level I wanted. I went to the hair dressers where all the footballers went and within three weeks I was cutting their hair. It worked out great, I got drunk, I got laid and then I had to go home and tell my dad I wanted to be a hairdresser!

I remember the days when drink and drugs were always available on set.

Oh yeah loads! I drank a lot but everyone else was on the coke. It was rampant in that period. When I moved to New York my best mate there was a dealer to all the big names. Anyone who was anyone would be over at ours getting on it, pop stars, actors, Kennedy’s. But I never touched the stuff.

It sounds like your glad you missed that boat.

Well I think I was surrounded with lovely people and my mate was concerned about me and warned me not to touch it. He knew Id be dead in 6 months if I got involved. In those days it was strong, coke was coke, It wasn’t cut to shit like these days. He was good to me he actually taught me a lot about people. There was plenty of cannabis around too. I didn’t smoke it until later but people were smoking and enjoying themselves and balancing out the coke comedown.

At what point did you return to the UK and give it all up for the domestic experience?

In 2000 I took some time out after my marriage fell apart. When I went back to it everything had changed, the standard had shifted and it was difficult to get back to the level where I had been. When this place came up I grabbed it because of the shopfront and the location. I live around the corner on Jesus Green with my wife and four kids. Its lovely round here. Although Its become super fashionable recently, it’s changed a lot in 19 years. Hoxton used to be derelict, it was like a bomb site.

I heard Hoxton used to be a real no-go zone.

Oh yeah… they’d shoot you. Gangsters, like not nice gangsters.

When did your health start to deteriorate?

Around four years ago. I was just sick one day and coughed up some blood. Went to the doctor and had some tests. They thought I had ulcers but after more investigation they said, ok your liver is fucked. I waited on the list for two years. You need to wait until a liver the right size for your body type becomes available. There weren’t many 6’ 4” people dying with extra large kidneys. Eventually they found one and I got a call at 4am and by 11am I was going into the operating theatre. Everything was alright until I started bleeding. I was in there for 13 hours and then put into an induced coma for 5 days. The visions and dreams were so fucked up and they’ll never leave you. The week in the coma has really turned my head around as to how I approach life.

Would you describe it as a spiritual experience?

Yes, exactly. I’ve learnt now where to put my energy and where not to. My outlook is far more positive now.

When did the Arthritis show up?

I recovered well and there was nothing wrong with the liver and the blood flow, I was feeling great. Then in February I had some slight swelling in my legs. I broke my hip and the swelling got worse and worse. For six months I was hardly able to walk or work. My knees, ankles and feet completely seized up, swelled and bruised. Finally after being hospitalised again it was diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Is this why you started using CBD?

I started using CBD mainly for the lack of sleep. But I noticed that it started to control the swelling when they’d taken me off the steroids. My sleep was amazing for the first time in years and I honestly think that has a lot to do with my legs recovering. But it seemed to me the CBD was helping with blood flow where the meds had failed. Now I use it every day and have been recommending it to people. It’s changed my life. And my sisters another story altogether. She has got a really low white blood cell count and she suffers from terrible headaches. These have been non stop for five years. Her last port of call was to try CBD, she was desperate. I sent her some and within two days she was sleeping well and her headaches were gone! I’m not being funny but you can hear it in her voice. Apparently everyone at her work has noticed the difference in her.

The proof is in the pudding.

Quite right sir.

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John Birchall
The Headucator
53 Colombia Road
E2 7RG

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