Time to welcome back our Robbie… a proper celebrity

It is the nature of celebrity in 2009 that no sooner has someone become a household name than their star is waning.
These days, of course, some people don’t even become household names.
Reality TV types, for example, are known only to a hardcore of fans for a nanosecond.
Generally, their behaviour has to be either lewd, criminal or unfathomably stupid for them to secure any lasting coverage in the national media – so devoid are they of any real talent… for anything.
Even then, most of us wouldn’t recognise these people if we bumped into them at the deli counter in Morrisons.
You see, there are stars – and there are real stars.
Take our very own UFO-spotting, global pop superstar come-hermit Robbie Williams, for example.
We’ve heard nowt from Boslem’s finest for about three years.
His last album – Rudebox – was, for the Robster, something of a damp squib.
And, during his self-imposed exile only the odd story has leaked out of camp Robbie.
Odd being the appropriate word.
And yet the airplay of the first single – Bodies – from his forthcoming album was greeted in many quarters like the Second Coming.
Why?
Because Mr R. Williams Esquire is a proper celebrity. Love him or hate him, no-one can deny the bloke has talent.
It would have been very easy for him to jump on the Take That bandwagon when Manchester’s ageing pin-ups took to the road again but common sense prevailed.
Now he’s back and – in the absence of any genuine pretenders to his throne – a public starved of his charismatic, snarling, energetic performances and occasionally brilliant music can’t wait to get their hands on the new material by the undisputed king of UK pop.
After his last album failed to hit the dizzy heights of previous releases there were many commentators only too keen to predict the demise of the ‘fat dancer from Take That’ as some unkind soul dubbed him.
However, I suspect our Robbie has a little more backbone than people give him credit for – and a damn sight more talent.
It is a peculiarly British thing, we are told, to build someone up only to knock them down.
And, in doing so, we seem to forget who and what we are dismantling in the rush for soundbites and headlines.
Ironically, none of us really know much about a bloke who – at the height of his powers – commands more column inches than the Prime Minister.
We know Robbie has an American girlfriend with an unusual name who he’s been with for some time now and that, during his sabbatical, he has developed a fascination for the extraterrestrial.
Other than that, we know precious little about the lad from Tunstall who lived above a pub in the Mother Town and whose gran gave him pocket money so he could watch the Vale.
I see quite a lot of Robbie’s dad and his best mate and I don’t ask after Robbie – just as those ordinary Potteries folk who bumped into him during his whistle-stop tour of his home city earlier in the year didn’t pester him.
On all the occasions I’ve been with Robbie’s nearest and dearest I’ve learned the following: those who know Robbie call him Rob; he has a PA called Josie; yes, he does have an interest in the paranormal; he was living on a diet comprised largely of fish as he got fit ahead of the release of the new album.
Hardly the kind of crumbs that would have the national Press offering me wads of cash.
No, the truth is Robbie is something of an enigma. His people do an amazing job of protecting his privacy and, consequently, there are many who hate the fact that he has a life outside of his public persona.
I say good luck to him.
Those who take great delight in knocking Robbie because he chose to live in Los Angeles or base himself down south on his return to the UK would do well to remember a couple of things.
In the last nine years his charity – Give It Sum – has distributed more than £4.5 million to more than 420 worthy causes in North Staffordshire. And it was £250,000 of Robbie’s own money which literally saved a certain local football club from going under a couple of years ago. Fact.
Maybe one of these days Robbie Williams will ring me up on a whim like he did another Sentinel journalist and we’ll have a chat about his latest album and our beloved Port Vale.
Then again, maybe he won’t.
Who cares about his private life? Let’s just face the music and dance.

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