The Blog

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 … Read more

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 more

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 more

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 more

The Year of Reading Dangerously

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 … Read more

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 does not mean that other writing is on … Read more

‘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

What I don’t get about ‘Not Now Bernard’

By Bernard O'Keeffe

There are many books I don’t get ( see, for example, ‘What I don’t get about Stoner’ – https://www.bernardokeeffe.com/?p=262), but I was surprised last week to discover that I might have been misreading my all-time favourite for many years. The book in question is David McKee’s ‘Not Now Bernard’, and it’s my favourite for several reasons: 1. It … Read more

Boyhood, Hydra, and Leonard Cohen

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Watching Richard Linklater’s brilliant ‘Boyhood’ left me asking the impossible question posed in that old Fairport Convention song -“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” The film shows a boy growing into a young man, but it does so by filming him and his family in real time. They all, literally, age before your eyes and … Read more

The literary thwack!

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! As I grow older one of the sounds which gives me increasing satisfaction is the thud of books hitting my bedroom wall. This is not, I hasten to add, the result of a strange literary fetish. It’s what happens when I decide I can go no further with whatever it is I … Read more

Randy Newman and Short People

By Bernard O'Keeffe

How do you teach irony? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years and the only answer I can offer with any degree of honesty is  – with great difficulty. There’s a simple reason for this. With irony you either get it or you don’t, and trying to help those who don’t … Read more

The Songs of Pete Atkin and Clive James

By Bernard O'Keeffe

Not many records survived my ill-judged  mid-1980’s vinyl sell-off, but one entire oeuvre made the cut – the series of 1970’s albums by Pete Atkin with lyrics by Clive James. There are several reasons why the Pete and Clive LP’s were considered worth saving. It wasn’t just that I spent many of my formative years … Read more