No Byron

“Nowadays, there is no voice that the oligarchy will listen to. No Byron. After fourteen years living in this country he said he no longer believed in our democracy, it was only the English who were under the illusion they lived in a free society. Whatever advantage they had in the past, the rest of the world had passed by.

An old and decadent oligarchy creaking under the weight of vacuous institutions - look at the monarchy puffed up by the stale air of the tabloids, the whole country is so awry. It is, he observed, Europe’s madhouse, poor, derelict, and deprived; where the rulers batten on an ignorant and regressive working-class who are fed with the most tawdry material promises; so insular that no-one is able to see the shit-house this country has become.

What’s left? Not even a theatre; the apology that has taken its place is populated by the middle-classes with their strangled vowels. No English man or woman could play Antony and Cleopatra; passion and love were quite beyond them, they could never discard their suburban subservience. Antony and Cleopatra would always be mere John and Norma.”

~ Derek Jarman, from ‘No Byron’, in At Your Own Risk (1992), p.14