hem hem... parę kawałków z oficjalnej stronki
We join the book with Rob sat in a hotel bar for coffee with Chris Briggs, Pompey, his other British bodyguard Gary Marshall, and Chris Heath.
"Westlife are staying here. Yesterday evening Rob had coffee here too. Westlife
weren't around, so he took two of their fans up to their room and slept with them.
'At the same time?' inquires Chris.
'Yeah,' he says.
I ask whether it was nice.
'It was,' he says, 'except one of them was on her period, so she got semi-naked,
then left, and she couldn't kiss, and the other one instantly got guilty after it all -
"I'm not normally like this." She got instant guilt. "Don't think that I am ... a slapper."
She was genuinely feeling ...'
'Shame?' prompts Chris.
'Yeah,' he says. He says they're the kind of fans who follow the Westlife van on the
motorway from Birmingham to London. They were slagging Westlife off to him for not speaking to them enough. 'And I was fighting Westlife's corner,' he says. '"Well, it's like this ..."'
There's something really brilliantly bonkers about sleeping with their fans and then
defending them, I say.
'It is, isn't it?' he says."
'Feel' is packed with classic stories, memories and one-liners. Robbie attends the Osbourne's New Year's Eve party 2002. However, he actually knew the Osbournes before their then-current media fame...
"(He and Ozzy had exchanged compliments at the Sunset Marquis Hotel and one day he
received a misdialled phone call in his hotel room that began with Sharon asking, 'Are you naked?' 'Yes' he allowed, because he was. 'I'm coming up,' she announced. 'Sharon,' he pointed out, 'it's Robbie Williams.' After that they had a lovely chat.)"
The book also gives an insight into Robbie's first love (and maybe even his last). At the Sutton Trust Community Centre in Stoke, Rob had just filmed his acceptance speech for a forthcoming local awards ceremony in which he was to be given the award of 'The Person Who Has Raised The Profile of Stoke The Most During The Year', when he is asked if he knows someone called Margaret...
"'Rachel's mum,' the person prompts.
'Oh,' says Rob. 'Rachel.' He nods. A moment later he turns round to me and says, 'She
was my first love.'
'So is Rachel courting then, Mum?' he asks his mother once we're in the car.
'She's still with that young man,' says Jan.
Of the girls he knew before he left Stoke, Rachel Gilson was the one he thinks most
sweetly of. 'She was first, you know: "I'd ride six miles on my mountain bike to come and see you." Which I did,' he says. She taught him how to play two chords on the guitar - C major and A major - and how to play the beginning of Prince's 'The Cross', a song he'd never heard. They'd play tennis and hang out at her house ... One of his songs, 'Win Some, Lose Some', is largely about her. He joined Take That, and she started modelling in Manchester and somehow they drifted apart. Sometimes he still wonders. 'I'm still very fond of Rachel. I think there's still like a, we can possibly still get it on, kind of thing,' he says. 'She loves me,' he insists. He smiles. 'She's just the sweetest, unassuming, nice-natured, good-hearted, prettiest thing in Stoke-on-Trent.'
With a boyfriend, I remind him.
'Yeah,' he says, mock dismissively. 'She doesn't love him as much as me.'"
After an improvised rehearsal of Back For Good with Mark Owen on the final night at Knebworth, Robbie meets the man of the moment, Wayne Rooney.
"Wayne Rooney comes backstage to say hello. (Rob has been quietly thrilled for weeks that Wayne Rooney was coming; he is the only other person they have allowed to use their makeshift helipad.) They share a little small talk and Rob is given two signed ROONEY shirts. He thinks for a second. 'Let me go and get you something,' he says, and disappears into his dressing room, but he can't find anything suitable. He brings out a pillow. 'I've got you a pillow,' he says."
Moving swiftly on to someone you didn't know you actually knew, but knew him you did, or nearly did... confused? Read on...
"At Music Bank he sits outside on the roof in the sun, smoking and laying out big plans. 'The song we've written,' he says, 'it doesn't sound like me. I don't want to do anything Robbie Williams would do. So what I'm thinking about doing is developing a character so thoroughly, with a prosthetic nose, a wig and everything, and do the best album I've ever done. And while the greatest hits is out, release an album as someone else. I've got him as an alcoholic. An alcoholic and an American. A Neil Diamond-esque kind of character. I think he's from Orange County, moved to West Hollywood and has not had a lot of luck - I don't know his story yet but I'm actually thinking of spending some time dressing like him, eating like him, living like him. At the moment he's called Pure Francis, and the album's called Diamond.' He turns to me. 'What do you think?'"
One evening, in a hotel bar, Rob is discussing his writing partnership with Guy Chambers with a few friends. Rob tells about his favourite songs; how he used to hate them all, and his plans for future recordings. The subject suddenly changes to the Fred and Rose West case which sparks a memory.
"''I was ten,' says Rob. 'I got followed round the park, and I must have picked up the vibe. And he followed me all the way to the police station and then fucked off.' Pause. 'The next night he killed someone.'"
Another discussion in another hotel room at the George V in Paris. Rob and Chris are dissecting music videos on late night MTV. Rob finally puts to bed the mystery surrounding Britney Spears.
"'Let's go to bed when a bad one comes on,' he suggests. There are a few more easy
winners and then Britney Spears' 'Boys', which only keeps us up because she fascinates us, less for what she has than what she hasn't - the way that, for all her Britney-ness, her personality doesn't come through at all. 'She looks like she hasn't really had enough sex yet,' says Rob. 'Do you know what I mean?'
A terrible mid-European rap-meets-techno record starts up.
'It'll be bedtime then,' he says."
Robbie goes deep into the two people that clearly caused him much of the pain of his late teens. One of these men: Gary Barlow. He reveals a list of Gary's eccentricities and cheapnesses:
"'How Gary used to charge Take That a thousand pounds a week for the use of his keyboard on tour... how he bought a Mercedes 250 and had Mercedes 500 stickers put on it... how he wouldn't always indicate when driving and explained it was a deliberate strategy to save the battery... how he would never drop Rob off at his house, opting to drop him off at the Trust House Forte service station on the M6 instead... and when you went round his house he'd have his own special coffee and an economy-size tub of Nescafe for visitors..."
The list goes on... Rob also talks about the rap he wrote on Take That's third single 'Once You've Tasted Love'.
"'I was just so chuffed that something I said was put on a song,' Rob remembers, 'and I didn't have a clue you could actually get paid for something like that' - Gary came up to him and told him that if he wanted 5 per cent of the publishing for the song, Gary would take off the rap instead 'because it doesn't enhance it'. 'That,' says Rob, 'was the end of wanting to write in Take That.' (Well, not quite...)"
Rob details many plans and big ideas he's had in his life, none more extravagant than a will he once drafted with special instructions for his parents:
"At the beginning of December he goes up to Stoke by helicopter again, and has an early
Christmas dinner at his sister's house with both his mother and father, the first day in 25 years they have all sat down together like that.
Maybe he sometimes imagines this is how they could actually be. He once drafted a will -
'It was,' he explains, 'in my "distancing myself from you because you might stop me taking cocaine" phase' - which said that if anything happened to him, his parents had to spend a week together in the Arctic in a tent before they got the money.
'I think I've seen too many films,' he says. 'I thought it was sweet and funny. Didn't make
my mum laugh, though.'"
...and what book about Robbie Williams would be complete without the impressive list of celebrity conquests.
"'I did look in the FHM Top 100 women list once,' he says, 'and there were 15 of them.'
Did that make you feel good or bad?
'At the time it actually made me feel bad. Now it's just funny. It was like Pokemon with
me at one point. You've gotta catch 'em all.'"