How to tell if you married a ‘Hapless Hugo’

Sasha Swire coined the term when writing about her husband but there are plenty of women who may feel the same way

Sasha Swire with her husband who she christened 'Hapless Hugo' in her book
Sasha Swire with her husband who she christened 'Hapless Hugo' in her book Credit: Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

This is turning out to be the autumn of Swiregate. For those of you who have somehow missed all the furore surrounding this week’s publication of Diary of a Tory MP’s Wife, Sasha Swire – wife of Sir Hugo Swire, former minister for Northern Ireland and trusted friend of the Camerons and Osbornes – has published her diaries. That is, all the private conversations, all the embarrassing jokes plus buckets of crushing observations.

The question everyone has been asking is how could she have worked up the nerve – to which there is only one answer: Sasha Swire is an adored wife married to a Hapless Hugo. (It was her who came up with the name: she admitted that her husband is concerned about being made to look like a ‘Hapless Hugo’ in the book, but she isn’t in the least worried, which is precisely what the wife of a Hapless Hugo would say).

Hapless Hugos are those husbands who think they are in charge but really aren’t. They are all those British men who are somewhere on the spectrum between terrified and awestruck when it comes to women, and their wives in particular. You may recognise the type (Hapless Prince Harry?) and possibly you know a Hapless Hugo or two. You might even be married to one. You might even be one and didn’t even realise it.

It’s easy to find out, if you’re interested. Here are 16 ways to spot a Hapless Hugo:

  1. He earns all the money, but has no real idea how it gets spent. For example, may have zero clue that the Not Really A Shepherd’s Hut cost £25,000 and that the bedroom curtains – for the fabric alone – cost more than the new boiler?
  2. He think that you (Mrs HH) do it all: that you did up the house (when it was Sarah Grundy of Grundy and Grundy); that you make jam (Mrs F in the village); that you are a natural blonde (Rebecca at Hari); that you do all the light gardening (Mr Hector); and that ‘your’ curry is a labour of love made to your own recipe (Badu’s authentic curry kits).
  3. When you fell out with the Hamiltons did he take your word for it that she is a mad control freak when in fact you were the one who stole her nanny/cleaner?
  4. He is under the impression that the dress you bought full price from Net-a-Porter is Zara in the sale.
  5. He thinks you are much cleverer and funnier than he is (even if this not the case, you let him think it).
  6. He is convinced that you have a chemical reaction to tequila which disinhibits you – and how – for which you cannot be held responsible.
  7. He has zero idea that you have him on a calorie controlled high protein diet.
  8. He thinks that your eyelashes are real.
  9.  He believes that you are allergic to wasp stings (which is what you told him when you had that violent reaction to your acid peel/Botox).
  10. Your social circle entirely composed of people you have handpicked, and his three best friends from university been gradually relegated to very big parties only.
  11. He still believes that last time you went on holiday you stayed in the biggest villa in the brochure because the others were all booked.
  12. You now buy all his clothes including Nehru collared gilets.
  13. He is delighted to be the butt of jokes and anecdotes including ones that, on closer inspection, call into question his integrity, professionalism and/or honesty.
  14. He has agreed to buy a new car because you said the other one was ‘too hard to drive’.
  15. He thinks you’ve given up smoking (he paid for Allen Carr) when you still have a pack of Marlborough Lights in your knicker draw.
  16. He’s reading this list and probably still thinks it’s about someone else.

Hapless, you see. He’s a Hugo. What more can we say?