Despite my fading Irish charm, plus the accelerating aches and pains, there are some days that I feel pretty good about myself. Then I hear about somebody such as, say, Simon Spurr, and I realize what a pathetic charade I am living.

I know you have probably never heard of our boy Simon. Neither had I, until MSN decided to ruin my week. For reasons unknown, they send me periodic messages about “men’s style” from GQ magazine, as if I need that information. But because I am a reading omnivore, I have to check it out. It’s not like I have a heavy schedule.

For the ignorant among us, Spurr worked for three long years with Ralph Lauren designing the Black Purple line of clothing. I know you have a few of those in your closet. Now, at 33, he has launched his own label and has been chosen by GQ as “the best new designer in America.” Now, don’t you feel dumb for not knowing him?

Your education continues. The Spurr line “mixes simplicity and sophistication of design by perfectly fitting premium denim with ultra-saturated indigo finish.”


Yes, denim.

And you better have some room on that Visa if you want to add Spurr to your fall collection. Denim (denim?) tuxedos are $2,895, while the three-piece denim (denim?) suit will run you a mere $2,545. But you probably only want a pair of jeans for working in the cow barn: $350.

Naturally, had to interview Spurr about a few of his favorite things. This is where my day was pretty much ruined.

His ride? Spurr prefers the Jaguar XK-SS because “it is a timeless car for me. It has the vintage elegance which reflects my daily style.” Now, Jaguar made only 16 of these and they will set you back $1 million or $2 million, depending on whether you want Steve McQueen’s old car.

My driveway holds a 1999 Mazda 626 with 280,000 miles on the odometer. Steve McQueen never saw it, but it was owned by Frank Renew, who often billed himself as “the smartest man in New England.” It has scant “vintage elegance” except for Frank’s leftover ketchup containers, but runs at 33 miles per gallon. It set me back $1,700, after some wrangling.

Spurr’s favorite jacket is his own, a textured leather racing jacket inspired by (if you can believe it) Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. “We did a collaboration with a Texas boot maker called Stallion,” said Spurr. “We took the snakeskin pattern and enlarged it. The man-hours are intense, hence the price: $5,000.”

On a peg by my front door hangs my favorite jacket, an L.L. Bean All Conditions Parka that set me back a whopping $168 about 10 years ago. It has been out, fair weather and foul, (all conditions, really) from Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre to Key West and still would look brandnew if I ever cleaned off the mud stains. I believe it was the forerunner of the jacket those Weather Channel idiots wear as they spin down the streets of New Orleans in one hurricane or another.

To decorate his digs, Spurr prefers the Eames sofa, and who wouldn’t? “The proof of great design is that it stands the test of time and it is still desirable today. It is vintage, modern and sophisticated.” It also will set you back $3,229 if you have two friends or $8,499 if you want the three-seater.

I have two couches in the Cobb Manor living room, one a Simmons sleeper sofa purchased for $700 from Meredith Dondis some 25 years ago to celebrate a divorce. You can imagine the shape it’s in. We opened it once to house Jefferson Phil and a dead mouse popped out. The other one is a 7-footer left to me by my mother. I guess they are “vintage” all right, but no one would dare call them “modern and sophisticated.” They don’t match with the rug very well, but no one, especially me, seems to mind.

If I had a couch costing $8,499, none of the louts I call friends would be allowed in the room.

Spurr also leaves me far, far behind with his Santa Maria Novella Pomegranate candles from a Florence monastery established in 1612 ($65 a candle), his Hotel Costes cologne ($129 for 125 milliliters) which “defines you as a person” and his Hermes flip-top notebook, about $185.

In my pathetic little life, I make do with $3 candles from T.J. Maxx, scents from Gillette and free reporter’s notebooks left over from a career at the Bangor Daily News.

Sure, Spurr is rich and famous and drives a million-dollar Jag, but is he any happier than I am?