The Blog

Libraries, labels and strippergrams

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Libraries matter to me for many reasons, but one of the most significant is probably the fact that I grew up with one at the end of my road. I have many memories of that childhood library, but there’s one in particular that (pun intended) sticks. It may have been a nationwide practice, or it may have been … Read moreLibraries, labels and strippergrams

Je Suis un Rock Star. The Stones at The Saatchi Gallery

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Exhibitionism, the Rolling Stones exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery, is all show and no tell. Fair enough for an exhibition, you might say, and especially for an exhibition which  draws attention to its own showiness by giving itself that title. That’s not to say that it’s unenjoyable. In many respects it’s great. There’s a load … Read moreJe Suis un Rock Star. The Stones at The Saatchi Gallery

Getting In – Advice about Personal Statements and Interviews for University English Applicants

By Bernard O'Keeffe

For those A-Level students going through the process of trying to get places at University to read English here’s some advice from my English Review article of 2007.   THE PERSONAL STATEMENT Keep it personal The Personal Statement is an important part of the UCAS application. Not all Universities will interview you, but they will … Read moreGetting In – Advice about Personal Statements and Interviews for University English Applicants

What’s So Funny ’bout Love, Peace and Understanding? The end of Mad Men

By Bernard O'Keeffe

(SPOILER ALERT) The ending of ‘Mad Men’ is deliberately ambiguous. It’s not frustratingly ambiguous in the way that the ending to ‘The Sopranos’ is – this finale’s ambiguity is far more satisfying, and its satisfaction lies in the way that, whichever way you choose to read our last sight of Don Draper (and they are … Read moreWhat’s So Funny ’bout Love, Peace and Understanding? The end of Mad Men

What I read this summer

By Bernard O'Keeffe

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides was so good that I thought I should catch up with his first novel, The Virgin Suicides, a haunting portrayal of adolescence and desire. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson was a little disappointing. Having heard such good things about Kate Atkinson I thought I’d  start with this one – … Read moreWhat I read this summer

Paul Weller — Sheerwater’s more famous son

By Bernard O'Keeffe

As I watched Paul Weller perform at Glastonbury last night my wife said that he ‘was looking good’. Being a secure kind of guy I had no problems with this undoubtedly true observation, but when she followed it with the question ‘how old is he now?’ I felt a little more uneasy, as contemplation of … Read morePaul Weller — Sheerwater’s more famous son

Beware Hipsters! Beware Hipsters! Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Noah Baumbach’s latest film While We’re Young fires comic warning shots at both the young and the old. For the old, represented by failing documentary film-maker Josh and wife Cornelia, it suggests that if you’re about to have a mid-life crisis it’s best not to have it in the company of hipsters ( Beware Hipsters!) … Read moreBeware Hipsters! Beware Hipsters! Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young

What I don’t get about Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

By Bernard O'Keeffe

‘Take the road less travelled’ is the stuff of a thousand graduation ceremonies and school assemblies, a neat poetic expression of the idea that sometimes we shouldn’t follow the path that others have trod but be brave enough to make the unconventional choice. The idea comes from Robert Frost’s famous  poem:    The Road Not … Read moreWhat I don’t get about Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

The Year of Reading Dangerously (and a New Year’s Resolution)

By Bernard O'Keeffe

‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’ by Andy Miller  reminds me of the great game in David Lodge’s brilliant comic novel ‘Changing Places’ – Humiliation. It’s a game played by English Literature academics – you name a work of literature you haven’t read and get a point for everyone else who has.It’s ages since I read … Read moreThe Year of Reading Dangerously (and a New Year’s Resolution)

Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (and a New Year’s Resolution)

By Bernard O'Keeffe

‘Do No Harm’, the memoir of neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, is one of my books of the year. Compelling and fascinating, it is articulately and honestly written, it provides unexpected insights into life and death, and it has had more impact on me than anything else I have read this year. Why, then, did I find … Read moreStories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (and a New Year’s Resolution)

The Joy of Text

By Bernard O'Keeffe

It’s come as a great relief to learn that a recent survey has revealed that 80% of those who use subtitles when watching TV are not deaf or hard of hearing. I am, it would seem, not alone, and it’s reassuring to know that my increasing subtitle-dependency (particularly when watching DVD’s) does not mean that … Read moreThe Joy of Text

‘Funny Girl’ — the highs and lows of the 60s

By Bernard O'Keeffe

When John Carey reviewed Nick Hornby’s ‘How To Be Good’ he famously compared Hornby to Dostoevsky – in talking about ‘The Idiot’ Carey observed that Hornby’s novel is ‘shorter, funnier, just as sharp in its human observation, and more realistic.’ High praise indeed, and coming from Carey, a man of impeccable insight and judgement, it’s … Read more‘Funny Girl’ — the highs and lows of the 60s