Robbie Williams: ‘Me and Gary [Barlow] are very similar’

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This week’s guest on Table Manners is Robbie Williams. Listen to the full episode here: You can listen to the episode here – play.acast.com/s/tablemanners/

Giving up Chocolate:

I gave up eating chocolate at the beginning of the year.

I’m trying on different things to see what fits. Off set the onset of middle age and obesity.

Robbie being Jessie’s first crush
Jessie: I loved you. You were potentially my first love. It could have been Ryan Giggs first or it could have been you. I can’t remember, it was around the first time. I loved you. I loved you in Take That. I resented you for a little bit and then I used to compete with my best friend who could cry more at your concerts. I loved you and this is a bit weird for me… I just want to put it out there. I loved you. I had you on my walls and everything.

Robbie: I’m very happy and honoured that I facilitated for you, your first safe crush where you wouldn’t be broken hearted.

Jessie: You did break my heart.

Robbie: By leaving Take That?

Jessie: You did, I think I did try and call the helpline.

Leaving Take That
In short, we had a manager. I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me. The only person who was being managed in the group really, was Gary. Gaz, very talented songwriter, very good friend of mine. We’ve made up because I since left Take That, slagged him off for years and years and years. I was sort of jealous, I was jealous and resentful that he was the only person in the band that was being looked after. Me and Gary are very similar. In the band, how we write songs, how we present ourselves, how we perform and where we want to go, we’re very much a one direction sort of person, I don’t mean in a Harry Styles way. We’re sort of like, blinkered where there’s no left or no right. If I was a footballer, I’d be getting that ball and heading it away or heading it into the goal by any means necessary and Gaz was the same too. So, all of these things plus cocaine and ecstasy and vodka, I needed too and had to leave to go and become the person I thought I could go on and become..which I did.

But now, me and Gary have learnt how to share our toys and that;s the benefit of maturity and getting older. I love him to bits and have the utmost respect for him. We write together, we’ll go and eat together, we hang out. I love him to bits.

If you were a footballer, who would you be?
I like to think I’d be Eric Contona but I’d actually be Gary Neville.

SoccerAid
Soccer Aid did become my baby. The reason I joined unicef and remained an ambassador ever since is because of Ian Dury. Ian Dury and the Blockheads. My lyrical inspiration is Ian Dury. I love the blockheads and my makeup artist who is still ym makeup artist today was Ian Dury’s makeup. He asked her and she asked me and I became a Unicef ambassador. Went out and did all the trips and stuff, and one day with a friend of mine, Johnny Wilks, came up with an idea with the Soccer Aid match and it just took off. I was expecting it to just be a one off. And ‘now we’re gonna do it every two years’ and now we do it every 1 year. It’s raised over £47 million. It’s an unbelievable few days. Nobody kind of sticks out as being an arsehoel either. It’s very rare there’s the one person where you’re like ‘that guy over there’. Everybody feels so lucky and privileged to be part of the event.

Living in L.A, with American wife
She’s very European. She’s a francophile. She’s in love with France. She speaks French, she speaks Italian. She has a very British sense of humour. She’s very naughty. She swears like a trooper. She’s not American with her sensibilities. She does Loose Woman every now and again. She also doesn’t know that ‘bollocks’ and ‘pissing it down’ is something you can’t say on British TV.

How did you meet?
It was a blind date. We didn’t eat anything, I just had a delivery from my drugs dealer. I wasn’t peckish. I mean, long and the short of it, she came over to the house. I was three weeks out of rehab. I was in a very very bad way. Then she arrived. I think I freaked her out. She had red wine. My wife when she has red wine is like a bullsy New York jew. She’s jewish by the way. There’s either the white wine Ida or red wine Ida. The red wine Ida, she’s like Joan Rivers basically. She’s a comedian, that’s how she started. So she arrives and she’s all bullsy and I arrive and I’m sort like 1990 warehouse rave and we just went ‘uh’. She had just come from this party and I thought to myself, ‘I’m gonna take her to this part, drop her off and leave’. But while I was in the car, she made me laugh so I thought I’ll go into the party with her, so I went into the party with her. We were in the corner looking in the party within the first 5 minutes of being there. And we looked at the room and we looked at each other and this moment happened, and the universe just went ‘you’ve known this person many many many lives, you are understood and you are safe’. Basically without a coin of phrase, she’s the one, he’s the one, do this thing now. We didn’t mention that to each other for two years when I was talking to someone about how we met. She was like ‘oh my god, you felt that too’. And I was like ‘yeah i felt that too’. She said ‘I didn’t want to mention it because I didn’t want to appear strange, but that was an actual moment right?’ I said ‘yeah’. We’ve been together for 15 years, we’ve got four kids. SHe is so smart, so funny, so bright all of the time. She makes me feel safe. She is the reason I have become the person I have become now.

Here’s the thing, every time I talk about her, I want to cry. If I’m like in an interview or talking about my wife to other guys, something happens right here in my temple ‘I’m gonna cry’. It’s a very special thing to have. In a very turbulent, unsafe world, our mini tribe, you know that saying people say ‘nothing outside can affect you when inside is safe’, and that’s how I feel. Nothing out there can hurt me when I am with her.

We wind each other up, you know when people talk about ‘we have our ups and downs’. We don’t actually have our ups and downs in the same sort of way people talk about. She can annoy the fuck out of me, and I know I can annoy the fuck out of her too. I tell you what, it’s sickening,wWe are so good when there is a problem, we know that within half an hour, 35 minutes, we’ll be closer than we were before, we’ll be holding hands watching the television and everything will be forgotten. It doesn’t make those moments less uncomfortable trying to get to that place where you’re comfortable again, but everytime we do we manage it. I’m so in like with her.

I think there’s nothing you can do about love. Love kind of happens to you. Like is a different thing completely. I’m heavily in like with my wife.

Having a baby this year.
Bo was born 9 months ago.

I’m going to get all my children’s birthdays tattooed. I forget absolutely everything. I don’t know my wife’s birthday. It won’t go in. I was at the opticians and took my two older kids to the opticians, and they were like ‘Mr Willians, what is Charlton’s birthday, and what;s Theodora’ss birthday’, and I was like ‘Do you mind if they go out of the room for a second cause I didn’t want to say in front of them, I don’t know’. I know it’s awful, but it’s really not my fault. I am numerically dyslexic which means I’m talking bollocks.

What did you eat when you were younger?
My mum and dad had a pub. My dad actually won new faces in 1974. It’s like Britain’s Got Talent. He’s a comedian. He won his round, went to the final, then lost in the final.

I lived with my mum. There was lots of oat cakes.

Oat cakes are a Stoke-on-Trent delicacy. It;s like a pancake, but not sweet.

I would eat whatever. The only things I don’t eat are olives and capers. I just don’t like them.

Favourite food?
My go to, it’s always takeaway food.

My go too, if I was going to splash the calories out, is sweet and sour chicken with special fried rice. And lamb balti, done properly.

Places to go and Eat Curry

“You guys don’t know that you don’t have a decent curry house down south.”

“They are shite in Los Angeles.”

“A northern curry is probably the best curry on the planet.”

Balsamic Vinegar

“I’m addicted to Balsamic Vinegar… it’s a problem I would have Weetabix and Balsamic Vinegar if I could.”

Drink of choice on a Desert Island.

“I haven’t had any alcohol for 20 years, chigedy-check that out. My drink of choice…as I’m saying all of these things and I’m saying them publicly i’m going ‘hey, I’m really uncultured.’ So here’s my drink of choice; Coke Zero.”

On a healthy lifestyle 6 out of 7 days a week.

“Today for example, I got up and walked 10 miles before lunch and then I had a vegan Moussaka.”

On being Vegan now.

“I was eating fish twice a day. I had my blood done last week and I’ve got the highest Mercury Poisoning the doctor has ever seen… I am now plant based, I am a plant based person and I have been for the last 5 days.”

Healthy living

“Married men stay alive longer than single men and that is because their wives badger them to be well. And so it is with my wife, she wanted me to get these bloods done and I was like ‘oh whatever…ok.’ And so many things that Ayda does and I do, I’m just going ‘she wants me to do it so i’ll do it.’ Anyway thank god because I could have dropped dead of Mercury and Arsenic Poisoning.”

Take That/ King Naan Story

“Early days of Take That we used to do this thing called King Naan and basically you would get points. So if you had a Phall you would get six points, if you had a Vindaloo you would get five points, if you have madrass you get four points and then it went all the way down to a Corma, but you had to finish your dish. And then as the couple of months went on who had the most points then became King Naan. And what we did was we got Naan bread and then we put stuff around it and a chain around it and you wore it at dinner time and you were King Naan. And whatever you wanted, everybody had to do.”

“I haven’t spoken about King Naan at all in public, that’s the first time right and as the words were leaving my lips I was like ‘this is mental what i’m saying. But it’s true.”

“I never was King Naan because I couldn’t stomach a fart. It was always Jason or Howard and basically what they would do is they would have a Phall, which is hotter than a Vindaloo and if the points were close they’d order another Phall and eat that dish too.”

“What do you do to stuff to make it not crumble? You varnish it. Yeah we’d varnish a Naan.”

“You had to call the person King Naan when you talked to them.”

On his table manners

“I don’t have good table manners, I eat like a Viking I suppose. If I could get rid of the knife and forks and just attack it with my fingers I would.”

“My side of the table is always the dirtiest.”

Ayda’s love of Christmas

“My wife just makes me love Christmas… Ayda came into my life and she is the spirit of Christmas.”

“Once we had got married and she got her feet under the table and she just started to go all out with the Christmas decorations. We used to live in this gated community in Beverly Hills and I came back one day and she had the house decorated. I swear you could see our house from the space station. There were just fifteen nodding santas, twenty bowing deers. Honestly I just thought about the electricity bill because when I was growing up you still had to put 50 pence into a meter to keep the electricity going.”

“The problem with my wife is she’s very very thoughtful, and she takes a lot of time and energy and patience thinking about presents for everybody and for me. The problem is this… I am the diametric opposite of my wife.”

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