After several texts back and forth, we finally agreed to meet Katie at The Charlotte Street Hotel, Goodge Street for an informal chat, very near her next appointment. We were relatively apprehensive to find out for ourselves if she is as harsh as she comes across or whether she does have a softer side. We also wanted to find out her views on working mums, and whether she thinks it is possible to have it all – which she doesn’t!
We found a small, cosy table near the window on the opposite side to the formal restaurant where guests were enjoying their coffees and cooked breakfasts, and we waited. It was fairly noisy and we quickly scrapped the idea of recording the meeting. This was the perfect setting for an informal chat. We had to keep our eyes on the entrance as obviously she would not have recognised us.
A prompt, smartly dressed and friendly Katie appeared and gave us a very warm welcome. After announcing that she needed a ‘wee and a coffee,’ she zipped off to the toilets and left her bag and blackberry on the table, which rang upon her return. She turned it off immediately and made a comment that she hoped that it was switched off as she wouldn’t want the caller hearing her say she didn’t want to talk to them. This made us think that perhaps Katie Hopkins does then worry what people think?
With coffee ordered, she launched straight into finding out more about Mojomums and making sure that we were not just another’ mummy business’. (Yes she did refer to netmums and mumsnet ). You could see her brain continuously ticking over and planning the next question. She is articulate, expressive and gets straight to the point; however, we were not there to justify our own business and, in truth, I think that Mojomums is too – let’s say, accommodating in its approach to helping women find a work- life balance, for her liking!
Whilst we would not admit to being Katie fans, we definitely enjoy reading and watching her interviews and often agree with some of the things she says. When we mentioned this to her, she told us that she advises her fans to ‘stay in the closet’ as it’s much safer!
We really wanted to find out if any of the abuse she receives does actually upset her, and she was adamant that it no longer does, and she finds this very refreshing. She is adamant that she doesn’t regret anything she has said and that she is able to laugh at herself. Do we believe her? Yes we think we do. However, when we questioned her on the knock -on effect this has on her family, we sensed some regret. Nevertheless, in true Katie style, she is committed to her cause!
“There was an awkward moment when Katie decided to ‘tell us off’ “
She is regularly confronted by the general public, most frequently via social media, and one man physically pushed her in the street. Again, we are sure this must have had an effect on her and she came across as being very aware of being in the public eye, as she kept looking around her. Whilst she assured us that this didn’t bother her, we think she has done a good job of getting over it rather than forgetting it. After all, she speaks her mind and as infuriating as that might be to some people, we don’t agree that she deserved to be pushed, nor does she deserve to be above Myra Hindley on the most hated UK women list!
Her recent views on obesity have also attracted negative responses from women. She was recently given an award for her comments to obese people, (so beautifully named: The Biggest Arse Award!) and personally turned up to accept it! – Brave or stupid? Her reply when asked if she felt threatened in a room full of people who all hated her was that she couldn’t care less; after all, they are fat and she can run faster than them!
Why she is so blunt….
Katie claimed that she has always been opinionated, but because she is in the media, what normally might be a longer conversation has to be condensed into ten words, and in order to get the point across, those ten words do have to pack a punch. In a live debate scenario, she is there to give the black or white, and the audience/public contributes to all the greys in-between. She will never talk about something she does not believe in. She is also riding what is the third wave of exposure since appearing on the Apprentice and certainly knows how to play her chosen role well.
How her family reacts….
We quizzed her on how her husband copes with her being in the limelight and Katie told us that on the odd occasion he may disagree with her rant, but on the whole he totally understands her role.
Likewise, we wanted to find out how public reaction (especially the negative part) affects her children. She explained that they are too young to be exposed to Facebook and Twitter so they are generally protected. However, they are often subjected to shouts of ‘TYLER’ and of her being recognised in public. She has given them media training in that they have a three line response to any questions asked about their mum. They are aware she is in the limelight for her views but we can’t help worrying and wondering how they will cope when they are older and more exposed to the media.
“Women should only have six weeks maternity leave – unpaid”
There was an awkward moment about 45 minutes in, when Katie decided to ‘tell us off’ for choosing the date we did to meet her (of two she suggested) based on us wanting to get back to pick the kids up from school. We had both arranged childcare for that morning as it was. It’s almost as if she has fallen on her sword and is a martyr to her belief that you cannot do an important job on anything other than – not only full time, but extra hours too. She commented on her late working and early starts and was ready to challenge us on our commitment for not doing the same. There is no forgiveness from Katie on this. Women working part time in senior roles are ‘not for her,’ and unfortunately, that means that like most other things, Katie has formed her opinion and is certain that her opinion is right!
According to Katie, the solution to the lack of women in the board room, or ‘the boardroom quota’ as it is referred to, is that women should only have six weeks maternity leave – unpaid. A year off is far too long in her opinion and women need to plan their careers better. She says that this works very well in the US. We’re not sure that maternity leave is quite right yet in the UK for many reasons, and we agree that it can be very hard on businesses especially smaller ones; however, the unpaid part is not something with which we agree!
She also believes that we should be telling mums not to return to work until they have had all of their children.
Friend or Foe?
Can you be friends with Katie Hopkins? Of course you can. Strip away the media and the serious debates and we are sure that Katie is a loyal and fun friend. She has developed a strategy of laughing at herself, which in person makes her likeable and funny. For example she was adamant that when we had our photo taken she would like her nose to look smaller! We did have a giggle; especially when both her pens broke and half of one flew across the room onto an unsuspecting member of the public. She is quirky and that is also endearing.
The black and white approach she takes on subjects is hard to negotiate, and when we hit one we didn’t agree with, it felt easier to move on rather than argue our point or enter into a famous ‘Katie’ style debate. She often gets personal as we have all seen, and whilst sometimes hilarious to watch, we didn’t want to be one of her victims. To be honest, the one ‘telling off’ we had already received left us feeling like a naughty school children, and that was enough for one day!
She has no intention of helping other women in their quest for success and motherhood. At mojomums we know first-hand that you can do both, and until we have a level playing field in the UK for both men and women, (predicted to take another 150 years) as much as we don’t like to admit it, we do need help!
On the whole we did enjoy meeting Katie. We both liked her, but the unnecessary ‘telling off’ we received did leave a slightly bitter taste. Strip away the constant need to be controversial and we are sure she is a very loyal friend and a good laugh to go out with.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to let us know below…