By Katie Hopkins
Across the dinner table, I could hear my husband waxing lyrical to his neighbour about the fantastic game of tennis he’d enjoyed that morning. On and on he talked about volleys and drop shots, his commentary droning on and on, until finally I could bear it no longer.
‘Oh for heaven’s sake, can’t you stop going on about that hideously boring game?’ I asked. ‘It’s bad enough that you have to play it. Only dogs should be interested in ball games’.
As I glanced around the room, I could see my fellow guests gaping at me. The look on their faces was all too obvious: how on earth could I be so rude to my husband?
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A little disrespect: Katie and her husband Mark, who she said she'll never put on a pedestalBut Mark just smiled. We’ve been married for three years and he’s used to me by now. But the truth is that, although I love Mark to bits, and we have a wonderful life with our children — India, eight, Poppy, seven, and Max, four — I don’t respect him. And he knows it.
As far as I’m concerned, every one of his views — from his wishy-washy leftie politics to his hopeless timekeeping — is either plain wrong or intensely irritating. And I have absolutely no hesitation in telling him so.
So you can imagine how horrified I was to read, in these pages last week, the author Barbara Taylor Bradford writing that the secret to a happy marriage is respecting your husband.
Barbara, 78, says she is appalled by couples who row in public. ‘When I open my mouth to say something, I edit my answer before it leaves my lips,’ she trills. Her husband Bob is a terrible time-keeper and often wears clothes she loathes. But does she criticise him? No. She believes that would be showing a lack of respect. Instead, she suggests, we should all bite our tongues and put our husbands on a pedestal.
'Mark has stubble and wears an earring. I think his style shows a lack of good taste and standards'
Well, balloons to that! Why on earth would I want to put my husband on a pedestal when I simply don’t respect him — and, indeed, disagree with virtually every word that comes out of his mouth?
To a certain extent, I believe the reasons I feel this way towards Mark stem from our very different backgrounds.
Brought up in Devon, I come from the quintessential Tory countryside milieu of hunting, shooting and fishing.
Different backgrounds: The former Apprentice star thinks her husband's cockney accent is 'uncouth'
I went to a private all girls’ convent school and was sponsored through Exeter University by the army.
I got a job with the Intelligence Corps on graduation and trained at Sandhurst military academy.
In contrast, Mark was brought up in East London where he attended bog-standard state schools. I never once envisaged myself marrying someone with a cockney accent, and must admit that I hate it.
When he talks to his friends from home, his London accent becomes even stronger and much harder to understand.
At 49, he still revels in Cockney rhyming slang and uses hideous phrases like: ‘let’s have a butcher’s’ — meaning ‘let’s take a look’ — which drive me mad. It’s so uncouth. I fight it — but when he speaks like this, I wonder how on earth we’ve ended up together.
For although Mark is at least as bright as me and has a masters degree, to listen to his accent you would think he worked as a market trader, not the City trader I envisaged marrying.
And if he’s talking like a barrow boy, how can I respect what he’s trying to tell me?
It’s not just his accent. Before working with leading advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, Mark dreamt of being a footballer — he actually played for Tring. I don’t even know where that is and have never bothered to find out. Football is the most pointless sport — to me, all football fans are idiots.
Whenever Mark mentions to people that he was a semi-professional footballer, it sets my teeth on edge. ‘How could you bear to spend any time with those people?’ I sigh. ‘Don’t you know that all footballers are thick and stupid?’
Indeed, if you were to look at us both, you certainly wouldn’t have put us together. I love to wear smart business clothes from Jaeger or Hobbs. Think of a modern day Margaret Thatcher and that’s me. Mark, in contrast, has stubble and wears an earring. I think his style shows a lack of good taste and standards. How can I respect that?
It is true, though, that I was first attracted to Mark because he was so different to my first husband, who left me for another woman.
Damian, my ex, was the chief executive officer of a big company, a typical Alpha Male. He had a huge handshake and commanded every room he stepped into. Mark, who I met three years after our split, is quiet, unassuming and humble; he could not be more different.
When I met him at Devon’s Met Office where we were both working, some seven years ago, I was attracted to his kindness and his gentle nature.
I also admired his creative streak — while I was a commercial director there, he was a creative director. In addition, he’s unassuming and unflappable. And I adore him for this.
Who knew? Opposites don’t attract. We’re twice as likely to be attracted to someone when we agree on six out of ten issues, than if we only agree on three
But, however much I love him, I simply can’t respect him. Not only are his hobbies, accent and dress uncouth and immature, his political views are those of Neil Kinnock in the Seventies.
I’m a total capitalist. I believe fundamentally in a world where the brightest get pushed to do even better. For Mark, the priority is ensuring that everyone is happy.
He disapproves of encouraging excessive achievement because he thinks it’s unfair to children who aren’t from middle-class families. He doesn’t see that this sort of egalitarian nonsense will just lead to lower standards. His politics are, quite frankly, better suited to socialist France.
For someone with such emotional intelligence, it astounds me that he doesn’t see that a fierce aspiration is the only way to make it to the top.
Education debate: Katie said her biggest arguments with Mark are over whether their children will go to private school
Meanwhile, they’ll go to Mark for finger-painting and climbing trees.
I do know, however, that I will never change him. Probably the only quality we have in common is that we are both phenomenally stubborn.
Women of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s generation were brought up to tiptoe around their husbands, bite their tongues and keep the peace. I can’t think of anything more demeaning.
I am also convinced that — far from being the way to a happy marriage — putting your husband on a pedestal is unhealthy, and treating every one of his utterances like part of the Sermon on the Mount can only end in tears.
I suspect a reason behind the recent rise in women getting divorced in their 60s is because they’re sick of feigning respect for their husband’s stupid views.