Who's Hughes?: Sean Hughes interview
He feels uncomfortable in expensive suits and pays more attention to the hair up his nose than the hair on his head. Yet novelist, actor and comedian Sean Hughes still considers himself a serious person
Saturday 28 August 1999
What freaks me out is when I am invited to a tuxedo type of do. I don't dress up at all and, for that very reason, when I am dressed up I always feel self-conscious. I'm sure a lot of women have that feeling all the time. I'm probably less self-conscious going around in my swimming trunks than in a fancy suit.
I wouldn't say that looks and style are unimportant - I'm not even that happy with the way I look, but I'm not going to go and change anything about it, because I think if you do one tiny thing, then you're on a really slippery slope to having a picture in your attic.
England is really classist, so people do look at the way you dress to a degree, and they make judgements - but who wants to hang out with those kind of people?
I sell myself on what I do. I have no interest in being a personality. I don't even like the word celebrity; it affects what other people see as me, but it doesn't really enter my life. I won't appear on any shows, apart from Never Mind the Buzzcocks, because I'm just not interested. My interests are writing novels and acting, and doing stand-up and getting ideas across. I'm quite a serious man.
I'm aware that before I did television people weren't going, "Wow, I'd love to shag him," but it's the power of that box. I know I'm not ugly, but I'm nothing special and television tends to make people look a bit special.
There's a bit in my novel where the character talks about buying a white suit, and that was based on my own life. I was 15 and I had this brainstorm. I thought I'd look like the bee's knees in white, when in fact I just looked like the little guy from Fantasy Island, and I never wore it ever, apart from in the shop. I might as well have said, "There's however much it cost, mate, just chuck it in the bin."
Some years ago, I bought a Paul Smith suit for about pounds 500, which I thought was astronomical. I didn't wear it very often and I didn't like it when I did. It felt uncomfortable. I was aware of it, aware of the expense. I was brought up a working-class Catholic in Ireland, and I still have that whole working-class attitude. I find there are much more important things to spend your money on than clothes.
I was working with Jo Brand once, and she turned to me and said, "Sean, you're a lovely bloke, but would you ever cut your nostril hairs?" She was right. She did me a favour and I was really grateful. I think sometimes you should tell people stuff like that.
I'm happy when I'm wearing what I'm comfortable in. I'm a great slipper wearer. I've never been a sex god, but slippers are fantastic, I heartily recommend them to anyone. I like sandals as well and I wear them quite a lot, even though my friends laugh at me because I wear socks with them. I love socks. I wear them in bed. Frank Sinatra used to wear a pair of socks one day and then just chuck them away the next. Now, I wouldn't do that, but I have slept with a horse.
In my hallway I've got a "hall of mirrors" mirror. So when you're going out, thinking you're looking pretty, the last thing you see as you leave the house is a squashed-up little oblong face. I went out of my way to get that mirror. It's fantastic. Everyone should have one. They should have them in Soho. People shouldn't be so obsessed by style and image.
`It's What He Would Have Wanted' is published on 18 September by Scribner, at pounds 9.99
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