Equity: an exclusive interview

When I arrive at Equity’s inner-city penthouse apartment, Equity is finishing on the phone with its interior designer.  Equity’s trademark decisiveness is on full display.

“And for the couches, the brown, I think.  … The dun, that’s right.  Thank you.”

Equity has always regarded as dun what ought to be dun.

Equity offers me a half-hearted apology (sans-smile) for keeping me waiting.

“Delay defeated me, dear boy.”

The venerable concept explains the entire apartment is being re-done.  Part of a desire to reinvent itself – to find new life in the 21st century. But what needs to be reinvented?

“When you’ve been around for as long as I have, it’s so tough to shed the image people have of you.”

What image is that I wonder aloud.  Equity waves a wistful hand.

“There have been certain certain things written about me over the years.”

I venture that I would be rather interested in hearing Equity’s side to all of that.

“People aren’t interested in score-settling, dear boy.”

But it wouldn’t be score-settling.  It would be doing justice.

This time Equity smiles.

“Well then I’d be delighted.”

Everyone is familiar with Equity’s early days.  The stellar acting career is in the distant past but the Academy Award is still on the mantle for Equity’s role in the the Hitchcock-directed Personam.

“Probably my favourite specific performance,” confessed Equity.

But now the glitz and glamour of those days are gone, as have the large wardrobes that used to be a part of them.

“I try to avoid a multiplicity of suits,” Equity explains.  In fact, the wardrobes are being completely taken out in the re-design.

There were dalliances in those days: Sir Thomas More (“Tommy – a wonderful man”) and rumours about a football player.  A goalie?

“A Keeper, of sorts,” says Equity, but offers no more.

I try to draw out more.  Was he an influence?

“Not an undue one.”

Perhaps this isn’t going to work if Equity isn’t willing to share.

“This isn’t a matter of secret-keeping.  It’s a matter of trust.”

But nor, it seems, does Equity want to talk about other partners like the Common Law.  Their high-profile divorce in the 19th century in which Equity came out on top in court.  Conscience Uncoupling, the tabloids called it.

“I’m still very close with the Common Law.  These people don’t know what they’re talking about half the time.”

There were of course the… stalking allegations.

“Not stalking,” Equity avows, before slipping into the third person.

“Equity follows the Common Law.  But it does not stalk.”

Equity is more forthcoming when talking about those who have wronged it.

“I’m a public figure.  I get it.  But the level of scrutiny we receive sometimes verges on the hateful. It’s enough to shock the conscience.  People think I’m being precious but if John Selden had written about you what he’s written about me we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

“And Snell, well…”

Snell.  The erstwhile biographer.

“He thought he knows everything about my life.  I shared a lot with him but for him to breach my confidence like that.”

Does Equity want an apology?

Equity pauses, but settles again on a stony response.

“I don’t require an idle gesture.”

We move on to what keeps Equity busy now.

“I have my range of remedies.  Still popular, time-tested.”

Still, there are rivals. Equity seems amused.

“Who?  Unjust Enrichment?”

I point out Unjust Enrichment has its adherents.

“No one can understand it, dear boy.  It’s a flash in the pan.  An obligation is helping your friend move house; it’s not the basis for a system of law.”

And what else does Equity do?

“What do you mean ‘what else’?”

A lot of other legal doctrines spend some time doing charity, I suggest.

Equity eyes me stonily over its teacup.

“Well,” it says, “I don’t assist volunteers.”

The interview ends shortly thereafter.

“I suppose you must be going,” Equity says.

I wonder if Equity is always this guarded.

“Not guarded.  Vigilant.”

Everyone else is to blame?

“It’s not a matter of blame.  But their hands are not clean, no.”

And if some judge you for that?

“I do what I think is right.”

Equity always does.

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