With my new wi-fi Sky HD box (get me!) I watched When Corden Met Barlow over the weekend in glorious technicolour. As well as being a very entertaining and revealing hour’s worth of TV charting the rise, fall and rise again of Gary Barlow’s career, it also highlighted that much talked about ‘British disease’. The one where we build folk up and then knock them down mercilessly.
If ever a career episiotomies this condition perfectly it is Mr Barlow’s. The cruelty and personal unpleasantness of the attacks upon him as he fell from top of the celebrity pops to an uncool, unfashionable and unwanted has-been was astonishing. It had a deeply offensive bullying, pack-mentality quality about it which left me cold.
The fact that he has now risen to status of national treasure- I’m not getting involved in the current debate over his alleged tax arrangements- is remarkable and even more impressive. His story teaches us three things.
Firstly, the line between confidence and perceived arrogance is very fine and when the media and rivals want to show it has been crossed they do- and how!
Secondly, having a place of comfort and support you can fall back on in difficult times is vital. Gary Barlow had his family and his music which kept him going. That oasis (no musical pun intended) of support and peace is something we all need regardless of what we are trying to achieve. I write that today sitting in a park looking at my gorgeous twelve-week old daughter- we’re having a daddy-daughter day, which as well as being great fun is a reminder- if it were needed- as to what is important in life.
Thirdly, class and talent is permanent. What eventually put Gary Barlow back on top wasn’t that media and celebrity fashions changed, although they did, and that people were prepared to hear from him again, it as that he is a remarkably talented musician and a decent man.
His story also teaches us that if want something badly enough, and are prepared to work for it and stick at it, anything is possible.