Experimenting with drugs

Shortly after we moved house I received an email from an admirer of my narration saying ‘I know where you live’… Obviously my mind turned toward the possibility that I had earned my first stalker. Wow, am I that well known?

I was so impressed I asked the alleged stalker to our house warming party (please don’t take this as an invitation – I do not normally invite random e-mailers into our house). Actually this correspondent was someone who lived quite close to where I used to live, had become a fan of my narration and had often hoped to see me around our local grocery store. Seemed like a nice fellow so I felt safe enough inviting him (and his wife) round. That he was an ear, nose and throat specialist didn’t hurt either (you see, I’m not extraordinarily open and generous – I had an ulterior motive in welcoming him into my circle of acquaintances)

After blowing my voice out a couple of weeks back at APAC (see this earlier blog) and following several occasions when I felt my voice becoming rougher than usual I thought it best to have a specialist take a look just in case there was anything out of order there (my voice is my most important asset after all). So I gave John (may or may not be his real name) a call.

He was very generous in getting me in promptly and proceeded to poke a long piece of plastic down one nostril to look at my vocal chords. Thankfully he gave me a clean bill of health, but as the plastic tube was starting its journey into the hidden depths he noted there was some evidence of an allergic reaction. I didn’t want to argue with him but as far as I know I’ve never had an allergic reaction to anything in my life (I’m one of the lucky ones, I know).

However, it occurred to me that maybe I had started to become allergic (pollen levels are very high right now) and we do have a bigger backyard with a lot more trees and undergrowth around (not to mention all the weeds…). He gave me the name of a mild over the counter allergy drug and left it at that.

A week or so later when I had a day or two free of recording I thought I’d give it a try – even though I’d still only experienced a slight roughness – to see if I felt anything different in my throat. Well, I don’t think I’ll try that again… Nothing terrible happened (what, after all that build-up?) but I felt so spacey and mildly ‘out of it’ for most of Friday and Saturday that I wonder anyone gets anything done when under the influence… I didn’t take one on Sunday and my clarity of thought improved 100 per cent – I felt awake and alive once more.

My father was a GP in the UK (or ‘personal physician’, as I think they’re called here) and actually had very little sympathy when anyone in his family suffered any kind of illness (strangely I think he was a very good doctor to patients he wasn’t related to) and I think I inherited his lack of sympathy. But now, thanks to a ‘stalker’ and a decision to experiment I can declare that anyone who suffers from allergies now has my immediate and wholehearted sympathy. Not only does the actual allergic reaction cause you grief – but the drugs you take to counteract it leave you feeling wacked out as well.

To celebrate, my wife and I went to the movies on Sunday night – we saw ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. The story seemed strangely familiar, as if I knew what was going to happen next (or perhaps it was just the after-effects of the drugs).

What did I think of the movie? Maybe I’ll tell you later…

About Simon

Simon is an actor who found his way into audiobook narrating as a side-gig and seems to have made a success of it. With some training as an actor as a child (just a couple of hours a week, but it stuck) and 15 years working inside the BBC (ending up as one of the presenters/newsreaders on BBC Radio 4 in London) he found the ideal combination for an audiobook narrator. Found his way to California two decades ago and never left.

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11 Responses to Experimenting with drugs

  1. Bellatrix June 21, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Still Attached . . .
    Well Simon, your allergies cannot be too bad, nor can you be sneezing too much . . . I see that your toes are still attached!

  2. TGWolfe June 20, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Dear Mr. Vance;

    As a 62 year old truck driver, I’ve discovered my life to be as a book …chapters upon chapters. My latest chapter seems to have taken an audiobook turn. As such, I’ve gobbled up many, many books with narrators from every sort …or so it would seem. However, I have to tell you, that your work is, in my opinion, flawless. Your ability to breathe life into the written character is extraoridinary and no, I decline the job of stalker. I’m simply offering a well read vagabond’s decision.

    As to the allergy dilemma …a spoonful of raw, unfiltered honey a day to keep the ‘chords’ pliable should do well. Try it.

    • Simon June 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

      Even ‘vagabonds’ are a part of life’s rich tapestry – everyone is welcome here!
      Raw, unfiltered honey sounds good.

  3. Michelle June 18, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    Hi Simon,

    I just checked Audible.com and found that all three Stieg Larsson books are top sellers. Congratulations. I think it is high time for an audio narrator performance-rights organization similar to ASCAP. You should be getting residuals for your performances. Would you agree?


    • Simon June 20, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

      I wish – but ‘it’ll never happen, my friend’ – certainly not when a publisher knows he/she’s got a best seller.
      It may happen on a small scale though, now that it’s recognized that narrators are having an impact on sales…
      Fingers crossed.

  4. Literate Housewife June 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    Okay, I officially am no longer going to worry about you thinking of me as a stalker. LOL! Expressing admiration is nothing in comparison.

    This summer has been very rough for allergies. My husband and daughter have been quite miserable in the standard ways. I’ve had a terrible cough since September, when I was pretty ill for a week. The family doctor diagnosed the cough as the after effects of whooping cough (apparently its making a come back – who knew?) and that there was nothing that could be done about it. A week ago my cough was so bad that I could barely breathe. It turns out that it’s either allergies or adult onset asthma because when the nurse at work gave me an inhaler, I was better nearly immediately. As much as I don’t want to have allergies or asthma, I’m so relieved to be feeling better that I just don’t care. 🙂

    So, how was the movie? I’m jealous of those who have been able to see it. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be coming here. I’ll have to hold tight until it comes out on DVD.

    Good luck with your voice! I sincerely (and selfishly) hope that it clears up soon.


    • Simon June 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

      I used to get ‘Whooping Cough’ as a child – at least my mother says so. I actually think I was faking a lot of it at the time to get sympathy 🙂 !
      I hope to do a blog about the movie in the not too distant future… Watch this space.

  5. Aquilla Balthazar June 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Simon, OK, I’ll take the job and be your cute female stalker!

    But seriously, as for “musings from a narrator,” I have some blithering commentary and soul-searching questions for you:

    1. I get the impression that you “act” out conversations with the characters, which is why your narration is so good. One can almost visualize a back-and-forth conversation with the characters. It’s almost like “a theatre of imagination” if you will. Can you comment on how your training as an actor effects your performances as a narrator?

    2. Do you speak any foreign languages? Or do you just have a natural gift for accents?

    3. Your female characters are especially good compared to other narrators. I think they are most effective because you appear to change the tone of your voice, rather that use a “higher” voice which presents less true. How do you do it?

    4. Finally, a technical question. If you do your own recording and production work, what software do you use? Just curious.

    Thank you, AQ

    • Simon June 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

      Okay – the jobs yours. I’ll be taking out an injunction against you later, just to make it official…. 😉

      Good questions and I’ll probably use them in a future vlog!

  6. Bellatrix LeStrange June 16, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Dear Simon,

    On allergies, here are my recommendations:

    1. Cut the weeds!
    2. Take long, hot showers and breath in the warm steam.
    3. Drink anything with slippery elm in it.
    4. Turn off the air conditioning.
    5. Use a humidifier at night.
    6. Buy stock in Kleenix.

    And seriously, if you want a stalker, at least get a cute female fan – not a doctor who sticks hoses down your nose. Yuck!

    • Simon June 16, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      I actually don’t think I do suffer from allergies, I’ve just been working my voice a lot lately – but everything you said applies to keeping a voice healthy and I’ll take note!

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