Dear Robbie Williams

The singer talked to George Michael before saying 'take that' to the band of the Nineties. He might have done better to consult Andrew Ridgeley

Well Robbie, I hope you're satisfied. You've quit Take That just two weeks before their British tour. You won't participate in the TOTP exclusive appearance for the single "Never Forget" tomorrow. You are driving British parents insane because teen fans - you know, the girls whose hormones are in a riot over you - currently have wrecked appetites and lock themselves in bedrooms to play Take That CDs on endless repeat while back copies of Smash Hits are getting soggier and soggier with tears. They relied on you to be the wild icon, the blond, ridiculously gorgeous party dude pretty much forever. Or at least until you were 25.

No one knows at this stage the dirty details of your abrupt departure from the most successful British band of the Nineties. Not even your dad, who's been begging, via the media, for you to call. Even we cynics - who groaned despairingly at Take That's arrival, as yet more teenybop fodder, in 1992 touting "It Only Takes a Minute" - are fascinated.

Seeing as you've notched up a record six singles that roared straight into No 1, it's hardly surprising. Respect is due. The big, ugly truth, if it ever emerges, will be devoured like hot crumpets.

Maybe when the band sat down at a meeting recently to plan meticulously 12 months of world tours and smash singles, you felt a bit out of it. You don't write songs or play an instrument, after all. You do important things, like smile a lot and pull your trousers down for the cameras. The songwriter, Gary Barlow, gets the respect and the serious money.

Now what does the future hold for you, a mere 21-year-old? Ladbrokes the bookies paint an optimistic picture. The odds are 8-1 on you being No 1 by Christmas. Take That are 3-1, by the way.

Robbie dear, it's important that you face reality. Matt and Luke Goss, latter-day peroxide wunderkids of Bros, can't give their solo stuff away. They are bloody embarrassing. The lust-laden screams soon fade and commercial viability plummets quickly.

You asked George Michael for advice, but George is a true pop genius. You should remember Andrew Ridgeley.

Longing for time off, a holiday? Man, don't even think about it. A single out by October is pretty essential, no matter what the quality. A cover version? Excellent!

As for the wrist-wringing platitudes from the Take That camp about never wanting to replace you, the door being open for your return, etc - ha, ha, ha. It would never work. Now you have to see the damn thing through for better or (more likely) worse. With your sleek professional wiles, if it all goes wrong, you could always go back to being a double-glazing salesman.

ANGELA LEWIS

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