How have pop stars been passing their time during lockdown? With concert halls and recording studios closed, many found themselves at a loose end.
Robbie Williams took himself off to St Tropez with his wife Ayda and their four children.
Sadly, Williams’ left ear started playing up. For some time he had been complaining that it was painful, but now he was also finding it hard to hear. He is 47 years old, and a measure of deafness is common among middle-aged pop stars, their ears battered by decades of their own music blasting out.
On the other hand, now that it has made its screen debut, perhaps Robbie Williams’ ear-wax should consider pursuing a solo career
Williams sat upright while the doctor squirted water through the syringe and into his ear canal
I once asked a pop star what she and her fellow pop stars talk about when they bump into each other. I thought she would say sex or drugs or rock ’n’ roll. Instead, she told me that their conversations centre of what type of IEMs, or ‘in-ear monitors’, they use to protect their ears from all the noise.
Faced with increasing ear problems, Robbie Williams consulted a French doctor, who declared that his left ear would have to be syringed.
In Britain, doctors have grown reluctant to syringe ears, as there is some small element of jeopardy to it. Instead, they perform something called micro-suction, applying a mini-hoover to the troubled orifice.
But clearly French doctors are made of stronger stuff: Williams sat upright while the doctor squirted water through the syringe and into his ear canal.
Before it was outlawed, I had my ears syringed two or three times and found it strangely enjoyable. A lovely whooshing sound bursts inside your head, almost like having an internal power-shower.
But Robbie Williams is clearly much more wimpish. Far from sitting back and enjoying the splash-and-tickle, he made a dreadful song and dance about it.
How do I know this? Surely, this was a private consultation, mercifully free from prying eyes?
Far from it: his wife Ayda, accompanying him to the doctor’s surgery, took out her mobile phone and filmed the procedure, in gruesome close-up, from start to finish. And then she put it all on Instagram, for the world to savour.
It makes grim viewing, like an out-take from Ridley Scott’s horror film Alien. While the wax pokes its blobby, squid-like head out of William’s grey-haired skull, Ayda can be heard groaning ‘Eeurgh! Eeurgh!’, while the doctor dutifully explains what’s happening.
Is this a new direction for the holiday video? When I was a child, back in the 1960s, my parents would bring what used to be called a ‘cine-camera’ on holiday, filming me and my siblings jumping into swimming pools, making sand-castles and so on.
But in all that time, no one would have thought to film our ears being syringed, still less to screen it to friends and relatives. For years, Robbie Williams was known — not least to himself — as a great entertainer. His dreary song Let Me Entertain You became his signature tune, a rallying-call for his many fans. Its first verse went:
‘Hell is gone and heaven’s here
There’s nothing left for you to fear
...So come on let me ent-er-tain you,
Let me ent-er- tain you.’
While the wax pokes its blobby, squid-like head out of William’s grey-haired skull, Ayda can be heard groaning ‘Eeurgh! Eeurgh!’, while the doctor dutifully explains what’s happening
But over the 24 years since he first recorded that song, his idea of entertainment has clearly gone haywire. Perhaps he should re-record it, altering the lyrics to keep up with his current preoccupations:
‘Hell is gone and heaven’s here
There’s no wax left in my left ear ... So come on let me ent-ear-tain you
Let me ent-ear-tain you.’
On the other hand, now that it has made its screen debut, perhaps Robbie Williams’ ear-wax should consider pursuing a solo career. Such a move might well be greeted with initial scepticism, as happened to Robbie Williams himself when he broke up with Take That.
But any decent agent could secure Robbie Williams’ ear-wax guest appearances on TV, jumping out of helicopters and consuming witchetty-grubs on I’m A Celebrity ...Get Me Out Of Here! or making lemon drizzle cake on The Great British Bake-Off.
It would soon graduate to hosting its own quiz-show, and would be pictured at awards ceremonies and stumbling out of West End restaurants. Given time, the ear wax would come to be regarded as a TV personality in its own right.
Meanwhile, Robbie Williams would occasionally pop up in a ‘Where Are They Now?’ feature, making us all gasp in wonder that he was the man who, all those years ago, gave his more famous ear wax its first big break.