The Insider: Working out with Take That
MONDAY, September 22
I was lying by the pool this morning when two bearded young men approached me.
‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘not more autograph-hunters…’
‘All right, mate?’ asked one, in a Mancunian accent.
Even worse, they were English. That usually means I have to spend the next ten minutes discussing how brilliant Simon Cowell is.
‘Fine, thanks,’ I replied, stiffly.
Then they both smiled and I realised who they were – Jason Orange and Howard Donald from Take That.
‘What the hell are you two doing in Hollywood?’ I asked. (The answer was mixing their new album.)
‘What the hell are YOU doing in Hollywood, you mean!’ retorted Jason, shaking his head with understandable incredulity.
‘A lot more than Robbie Williams, for sure,’ I replied.
Piers ran into some old friends in Hollywood... Jason Orange (far left) and Howard Donald (far right) from Take That. Also pictured Mark Owen (centre left) and Gary Barlow (centre right)
I was Take That’s official biographer in those heady early days of the band’s teenybopper mania.
‘What’s fame like second time round?’ I asked.
‘Better,’ said Howard. ‘We’re older, wiser and can enjoy it more for what it is.’
‘If you could go back to the anonymity you enjoyed before Take That ever began, would you take it?’
‘I would,’ said Jason. ‘Fame corrupts people’s lives.’
‘Yes, though what I’d really like is to have all the money and musical success without the fame…’
TUESDAY, September 23
I walked into the gym and found a grimacing Jason Orange bunched into an extraordinarily tight, crablike yoga position.
‘Need some help, mate?’ I joked. ‘You look stuck.’
‘I’m fine, thanks,’ he grimaced.
Half an hour later, he reappeared as I was trying (with excruciating difficulty) to repeatedly, and pointlessly, lift two 60lb dumbbells high above my head.
‘Need some help, mate?’ he chuckled. ‘I could hear you grunting and groaning in the room next door…’