Radio review: Philip Treacy conjures up the wonderful world of hats

Nuala McCann

The Marian Finucane Show Jordan Peterson

Desert Island Discs Philip Treacy

The most influential intellectual or the devil incarnate?

RTE presenter Marian Finucane girded her loins for her interview with Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

He's a controversial figure – a Canadian psychology professor with strong views on gender politics who has made it clear that he's “no friend of the collectivist left wing” and admitted in the past that he had “hit a hornet's nest.”

Nevertheless, he has become a hero figure for thousands of young men who flock to hear him speak.

Marian went into combat but Peterson is no pussy cat and although his views on transgender and single parenting sound outrageous, he argues with skill.

Finucane can come over a little schoolmarmish when faced with someone like Peterson.

In the end, she read out the listeners' comments.

“Idiotic biological determinism with a big dollop of fear of women, the idea this nonsense is being listened to by young men is frightening,” said one listener.

“You've got them going,” Finucane told Peterson.

From a small village in Galway to making hats for kings and queens... hat designer Philip Treacy has come a long way.

But he has not lost a sense of who he is and this episode of Desert Island Discs was compelling.

As a small child, he loved to go to weddings in the chapel across the road in the village where he lived in County Galway.

He loved to look at the beautiful wedding dresses, the hats, the style ... he was the small figure in an anorak at the back of the church, drinking it all in.

He asked the teacher could he learn to sew when he was just six. His father took him to Galway to buy a doll so he could make clothes for it. Later, when others questioned his strange love of sewing, his father said if it made him happy, that was what counted.

Treacy sounds like great company – from his disdain for the fascinator – “sounds like a dodgy sex toy” to his chat about the frantic whirl that is Ascot – “It's like Christmas for us”.

Listen out for the story of JFK's inauguration and kicking about the top hats.

He has made hats for the stars of the world – a telephone hat for Lady Gaga; a crystal creation for Madonna and a hat with tentacles for Grace Jones.

Grace is a good friend – she stayed with him for a while, he'd come home and find her at the kitchen sink in the Marigolds doing the washing up.

But Treacy never came across as pompous or a name dropper ... in fact, the reverse.

He sounds surprised by how his life turned out.

With music from Kate Bush, Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Culture Club, it's a real treat right down to that pretzel hat he made for a royal wedding.

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