Barlowitis – Chapter 13 of our #popculture and #Eurovision extravaganza

Continuing our serialisation of What’s The Deal With Europe?  The novel that inspired the comedy movie Transatlantic Smash.


It’s strange how something that you may think is one of your least memorable moments can often turn out to be the thing that ends up pigeon-holing you as a person.  Sometimes you have to annoy people to get where you want to be, hence the reason why when asked of their opinion of Gary Barlow, some people will say “he was the talented one in Take That” and some will say “he was the fat one in Take That.”

You’re never going to please everyone and therefore I have tended to believe that you may as well expend your effort on the people you like, and not the ones you don’t want to please, as it’s usually the ones that care about you that count.  It doesn’t always work out like that though.  Robert was brought up to believe that you should treat everyone with respect, but as he got more and more into the Taurus way of life, he left behind some of his good manners.  In fact all three of the band did this, especially with women, and Patrick had very little manners to begin with!

Let’s now take a look at Robbie Williams, the so-called “fat dancer in Take That” (quote – Liam Gallagher, Brit awards 2000).   He has now achieved status as the most credible, popular and well-paid British solo artist.  The rifts between Gary and Robbie have been well documented, even though the tabloid press would have us now believe that they’ve kissed and made up.  Mr Barlow was once (and still is) the songwriter and lead vocalist in the biggest boyband in British pop music.  For this reason I can’t help feel a certain amount of affection for him, however, his biggest downfall was the fact that he was maybe too aware of his talent and not exactly aware of what was going on around him.  The tension grew in the band and Robbie eventually left to pursue a solo career.

Robert was very keen to make sure this sort of thing didn’t happen to Taurus.  A very famous philosopher once said to him, “be careful how many heads you tread on on the way up because they’ll tread on you on your way back down.”  Actually, the philosopher wasn’t that famous.  It was his Dad.  Even so, he heeded the warning, as he certainly didn’t want anyone in the future (no not the nightclub in Derby – the actual future) to be calling him the fat dancer in Taurus.

Robert was the songwriter in the band and people needed to know that.  It’s not that he would despise Ashley or Patrick if they became the biggest pop star in Europe.  Good luck to them with their money, women, mansions and jet set lifestyles.  Good luck to them if they’re idolised by both women and men the world over.  Robert would always have his music and he’d always get royalties from the Taurus days.  And with that ‘epiphany’, he entered the mindset of a Prima Donna.

Having not released a single yet, Robert began to see Taurus’s story so far as a string of uninspiring gigs and uninspiring girls.  Robert wanted more and therefore his frustration with Ashley and Patrick grew.  He thought that they weren’t taking it seriously enough.  He was also pissed off with the control that Michael had over the band.  It wasn’t long before Robert found himself voicing his opinions.
He voiced them firstly with Ashley, explaining that he was getting distracted, which was a fallacy anyway, and that he needed to make more of an effort.  He then set about trying to motivate him in the only way he knew – by winding him up.  Comments started flying around along the lines of “I might have to drop you from the band.”  He never actually meant it, but he was getting carried away, walking a tightrope between jokes and reality.  Patrick, who hadn’t yet taken the brunt of Robert’s mood swings by taking an uncharacteristic backseat role, decided to get in on the action.

Patrick had issues to air.  He had always been resentful of Michael’s control over the band, and so was indirectly resentful of Ashley too, especially considering how he was pretty much lead vocalist now.
Without warning, the subject of royalties came up in a conversation which originated as an unnecessary motivational speech for Ashley.  So there it was and one comment about who has rights to what with the song
Car Wars and unexpectedly, a power struggle between Patrick and Robert arose.

Lots of issues in one’s life that are voiced unexpectedly come from some kind of subconscious opinion, belief or delusion. But there they were, two supposedly grown up men (although that term could really be disputed) arguing like schoolboys over who would get a larger slice of the cake.
Had they got carried away in the hysteria?  I’d say yes, although Ashley might say that all hysteria meant to him was the title of a Def Leppard album.  What ever it was though, there was certainly no need for it.  Just think about it.  They were arguing about who’d get the biggest pay packet from a song that in hindsight they had no guarantees would ever be released!  It seems that Robert had actually caught early-onset Barlowitis.  Just call him Gary.

It didn’t end there though.  Through some mate of a mate, Patrick had managed to swing himself an interview on a local radio station – and he was going to use it to plug Taurus and their soon to be released single What’s the deal with Europe? but Robert, already steaming, couldn’t help feeling that Patrick was going to go on and take all the credit.  He did his best to persuade Patrick that they should all go along to the station to promote the band together; share the air-time.  But Patrick insisted that the studio wasn’t big enough for the three of them (it probably wasn’t going to be big enough for Patrick’s ego alone) so he would have to go by himself.  Anyway, it was his band. He was the one that had come up with the idea for Taurus.  Patrick never actually said that to the others but Robert knew he was thinking it.

When the day of the interview came, I sat in my room with the station tuned in, waiting for the show to start.  Both Ashley and Robert claimed that they were not going to listen to it, but in the end, curiosity got the better of them and I found them at first propping up my doorway and eventually sat on my bed listening intently to the interview.  It went something like this:
“I’m pleased to have on the show today, Mr Wild Card Patrick Terry.  How’s things Pat?  Can I call you Pat?”

“Yes, fine thanks.”

“Good good. How’s life treating you? Is it good?”  I’m sure the DJ had just asked this question but Patrick proceeded anyway.

“Good good.” He’d already said that phrase too much for my taste. “And for those that don’t know, you make up one third of Eurovision hopefuls Taurus.  So then Pat, What’s the deal with Europe?”

“Yes, that’s the name of our song that will hopefully win back Eurovision glory for the UK.”

“But what I mean is, just exactly what
is the deal with Europe?”

“Oh right. Well…”

“Why’s it so full of hate?”  Oh my god.  If this Marcus guy was just going to reel off lyrics as questions, this was going to be considerably tiresome interview.  Thankfully, Patrick managed to squeeze a word in.

“I used to think that it was no one liked us, but now increasingly I’m beginning to realise that other countries that are joining like Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, have their very own type of ethnic sounding music.  And I used to think that they just liked each other and therefore voted for each other.  But if you think about it, that’s just the type of music they like.  Obviously a Bulgarian is going to prefer the sound of a Romanian music to French music, because it’s more like what they’re used to.  I don’t think it’s necessarily sinister, but you’re going to have to pander to their tastes if you want to win.”

“Good point.  So is that something that you’ve tried to with your song?”

“Yes it is.”

“Good good.  We’ll be back with Wild Card Pat after this tune…”  This was not comfortable listening.  It’s not as though Patrick had done anything particularly wrong, but Ashley and Robert were silent and apart from the occasional shake of the head were fairly inanimate.  The tension within was evident.

“So that was Songbird by Oasis and we’re back with Patrick Terry from Taurus, Eurovision hopeful.  Oasis in Eurovision, Pat?”

“I don’t think it would work.  I don’t think the UK could enter in any way a traditional UK song and win.”

“Def Leppard in Eurovision?”

“Yes it’s a winner!  Unquestionably a winner!”

Fuck this!  Ashley was visibly shaking with anger.  How had it come to this?  Why the hell was fucking Patrick Terry on the radio to plug his band.  His band!  It was his band after all.  He’d come up with the idea, he’d got the others involved.  It was all because of his love for Eurovision.  He was the one that wanted to bring back the glory days of the contest for the UK.  He’d written the lyrics to the song.  He was the lead singer.  And why were they talking about his favourite band?  Why were they talking about Def Leppard and Eurovision and all his favourite things?

The DJ continued, “Do you think Def Leppard would enter Eurovision?”


“Could we persuade them?”

“I’d love to see it.  I’d genuinely love to see Def Leppard in Eurovision.” Patrick was definitely doing this on purpose.  He knew how much Ashley liked Def Leppard and was doing what he could to steal the spotlight and annoy his colleagues, not friends, colleagues, in the process.  “But I think they’ve been snubbed by Britain too often now.  No one buys Def Leppard records anymore.  They’re probably seen by the younger generation as Grandad Rock aren’t they?  Not to the extent of Deep Purple would be, but they’re probably seen to be a little bit too old to be doing what they do, compared to, I dunno, someone like Busted.”

“Haven’t they just got to get a hair cut?”

“Do you think that would do it?”


“So let’s play one of my highlights of the contest.  I must admit that Eurovision has produced some great songs over the years.  Winning it with Love Shine a Light was definitely one of the highlights for me.  I didn’t really like the song at the time though ironically.  But now that I’ve heard it since I’ve thought yes that was a winner.”

“Obviously it was a winner because it won.  And winning is kind of a prerequisite for being a winner really.”  Patrick was a cocky twat at the best of times.

“Well here it is…”

By this point, let’s just say that Robert and Ashley were more than a little annoyed that Patrick had failed to mention them even once in the interview.  It was a band not a solo act, but Patrick didn’t seem to care.
“So that was Katrina and the Waves with Love Shine a Light, which I’ve already said is one of my Eurovision highlights.  What would you say are your highlights Pat?”

“The half time show in 2001 was pretty good.  It was Aqua featuring Safri Duo, doing a medley of Aqua hits.  It sounds crap now, but actually I was quite impressed by it!  Barbie Girl, Doctor Jones, that one from Sliding Doors and Cartoon Heroes”

“Cartoon Heroes, they weren’t Aqua”

“Not Cartoons, they did Cartoons Heroes.”

“Now I’m thoroughly confused.”

“There was a band once called Cartoons that did a song called Witch Doctor, but Aqua did a song called Cartoon Heroes.”

“Oh right.”


“Which I think was their last UK hit.  I quite liked them.  If they had a greatest hits album I think I’d buy it.”

“Four songs though.  That’s only a greatest hits EP really.  But enough about Aqua, let’s get back to the reason why you’re here though.  We’re going to play your song shortly, What’s the deal with Europe, an entry in this year’s Making Your Mind Up.  You’re hoping to win and therefore represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.”

“That’s right.”

“So what made you want to enter?”

“It was last year’s shameful result.  I still can’t quite believe we did so badly. If I’m honest, as the points failed to come in, I was just getting angrier and angrier, until it got to the stage where I thought ‘Well I don’t want any now then.  I’d rather just come last.'”  The look of shock on Ashley’s face was a sight to behold.  Patrick was even quoting Ashley verbatim now and I was getting worried that Pat might even claim that Taurus was his own idea.  “Did you know that we’ve had the most second place entries out of any country at fifteen times?”

“No I didn’t.  And I’m ashamed to say as a DJ that it seems weird to have a guest on that knows more about Eurovision than I do.”

“I can’t help thinking that my Eurovision knowledge is unnatural.  I just seem to absorb so much of it!” exclaimed Patrick.  He didn’t know much at all.  Everything he knew he’d heard from Ashley.
“What was that?”

“Oh my God it was me,” exclaimed Patrick.  Now it wasn’t actually Patrick – it was his mobile phone receiving a text message.

“That’s so unprofessional,” said Marcus the DJ and I thought he was going to blow his top, “but I’ll let you off though.”

I’m glad he didn’t blow his top over something so small, but Robert, who’d sent the text in the first place, didn’t see it as small.  He loved the fact that he’d made Patrick sound a little bit foolish on air by sending him a text saying just the word BARLOWITIS, but he didn’t realise the full affect of what was to come as a result of Patrick paying attention to this.  For now the DJ continued.

“I think on that note it’s time to play your song.”

“Can I just say one more thing before you do?”

“Go for it.”

“I just want to say to all your listeners that we’d appreciate it if they voted for Taurus in Making your Mind Up next week.  I think we’ve got a great chance of bringing back European glory to the UK, and I want to say so much of it is down to Ashley’s and Aftershox’s song writing ability.  I think What’s the Deal With Europe is a great tune and has lyrics that should bring people together.  It’s all good fun and I work with two talented guys and we really want to have a shot at it.”

“Good good.” And at this point Robert and Ashley even managed a smile.  It seemed that Barlowitis had a temporary cure.


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