The TLS in Albert Square
By J. C.
The TLS has hit the screen again. Not the big screen this time. Our last outing in moviedom was as an eye-catching extra in the film Iris. Then, the TLS was a folded treasure idling around the Oxford house of Iris Murdoch and John Bayley. Our latest role was just last week, in an episode of the BBC1 drama EastEnders, in which all conversation seems to begin and end as shouting, with a brief interval for screaming in between. In the unlikely event of a victor ever emerging, the series will come to an end.
Cut to an Albert Square living room on April 12. During a lull in the bawling, Michael Moon is seated in an armchair, reading a magazine. He is interrupted in this un-EastEnder-ish activity by his fiancée, Janine, who presents him with a typed copy of their pre-nuptial agreement. Michael places the magazine on his lap while he speaks. The camera hovers at his shoulder. He has been reading . . . the TLS! Now, though, he must engage with Janine. Our contribution to the drama is over.We may not have said anything, but our appearance was pregnant with meaning.
Michael Moon is described to us by one keen watcher as both “an aesthete” and “a psychopath”. One of those explains why he is reading the TLS. The paper was open at a review of a book about Pope Benedict. The reviewer was our Religion editor Rupert Shortt. To semiologists among you, all is becoming clear: Michael wants the world to believe he is concerned with matters of the soul. He is . . . but not as he would have us think.
The Pynchonesque attention to detail on the part of the script writers does not end there. Some months ago, the refined Mr Moon was seen reading a different journal: the London Review of Books. No, we are not about to say that this demonstrates his essential wickedness. Yes, we are pleased to take it as proof that even psychopaths can change.