The Story of My Heart – #GoingPublic on Twitter

Not my heart, in fact, but that of Richard Jefferies, a prose poet of the English countryside.

I’m doing this at the instigation of my friend and fellow narrator Xe Sands.  In a moment of inspiration some weeks back she decided to introduce #GoingPublic as a hashtag to Twitter (I can’t really explain the details of hashtags, if you know twitter you’ll understand and if you don’t it really doesn’t matter that much).  Suffice to say, it is an opportunity for narrators (and, I guess, just about anyone) to record a piece of literature or poetry that is in the public domain (so no copyright issues) for people to listen to without charge – and the links are promoted via Twitter and #GoingPublic.

So this is my offering.  It’s from a book I’ve long wanted to record.  In fact, many moons ago I thought of doing it as a solo production and offering it for a fee for download via my website.  But in the end, I think offering extracts for free is a better way of getting this ‘out there’.

Many years ago I worked for a group that took the name “Lectures at a Loss” founded by two producers at BBC Radio Brighton (Keith Slade and Ivan Howlett, both now deceased) who created shows using actors to read texts on stage with a slide show behind (merging pictures using two projectors) as well as music.  There were shows about the Cutty Sark that took place aboard the Cutty Sark (a clipper ship) at Greenwich and a show about Aubrey Beardsley (an artist of the late victorian era with connections to Brighton).  There was also one about Richard Jefferies that I particularly enjoyed working on (I just helped with the set up and background stuff – although in the Cutty Sark show I did have a line or two…”Millet, Sir!” was one of them).

The Richard Jeffries ‘lecture’ made a big impact on me and as I became a narrator I promised myself that one day I’d seek out his writings and try to present them in audiobook format… so far “The Story of My Heart” is the only book I have in my possession…. So here are the opening pages from that book – I strongly suggest listening to Vaughan-Williams’ composition “A Lark Ascending” while listening to this (I’d have mixed it in myself, but…copyright).


John Richard Jefferies (6 November 1848 – 14 August 1887) was an English nature writer, noted for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels.  The novelist and historian Walter Besant wrote of his reaction on first reading Jefferies: “Why, we must have been blind all our lives; here were the most wonderful things possible going on under our very noses, but we saw them not.”

In December 1881, Jefferies began to suffer from his until then undiagnosed tuberculosis.  After a series of painful operations, he moved to West Brighton to convalesce. About this time he wrote his extraordinary autobiography, The Story of My Heart (1883). He had been planning this work for seventeen years and, in his words, it was ‘absolutely and unflinchingly true’. It was not an autobiography of the events of his life, but an outpouring of his deepest thoughts and feelings.

I hope you enjoy listening to it.
Take Care

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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6 Responses to The Story of My Heart – #GoingPublic on Twitter

  1. Jennifer February 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Dear Simon,

    Thank you for sharing the sluicing of the sinuses as one way to combat a cold. My husband has been doing this for years. The other thing DH does is eat raw garlic (swears by Dr. Weil). I cannot tell you if this works, but I can tell you that we have never been visited by a vampire. Kissing is also embargoed during this time for obvious reasons. I’m sure you know about slippery elm, warm vaporizers, and eucalyptus tea from Whole Foods. BTW, I loved The King’s Speech and didn’t detect even a sniff.

    Best, Jennifer

  2. Steve December 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    If you every recorded the whole book ” The Story Of My Heart ” I for one will definately buy the audio, It is both poetic and insightful.

  3. Jennifer December 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    What do Simon Vance, 2011, 67, and 858:62 have in Common?

    My favorite narrator, the current year, the number of books I’ve listened to that have been narrated by Simon Vance, and the total number of hours and minutes of Simon Vance’s narration to which I have listened. And the year is not yet over. Perhaps I can get a few more books in. Thanks Simon for a wonderful year!

  4. Jennifer November 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Simon Vance, the Good Thief, and the Exploding Turkey

    No, this is not a story about animal abuse. It is a story of palate abuse. And not to put too fine a point on it; spousal palate abuse. You see, I don’t cook . . . at all. So, I married a fine man who does cook. He had a great idea for Thanksgiving this year, let’s try a “tofu turkey” from an organic market. He is a vegetarian after all, so this seemed like a reasonable idea.

    DH spent all day in the kitchen cooking up the tofu turkey, cranberries, wild rice, steamed asparagus, apple pie, etc.

    At around 2:00 PM on Thanksgiving, dinner was served. We were hungry, the table was set, and the food looked wonderful . . . mostly. The problem was the tofu turkey. It looked a little weird and frankly it sounded a little weird.

    A low rumbling, popping sound came from inside the turkey. I knew this wasn’t good.

    Then, the turkey exploded. A melange of tofu goo everywhere.

    Apparently, DH forgot to take the plastic bag with the spices out of the poor organic fowl.

    So, what did I do, besides stare in horror at the guests and the mess?

    Well, we eventually worked our way around the “dinner.” It’s difficult to describe what tofu turkey tastes like and I will not try to explain it here. There are a number of adjectives I could use, but will not.

    After we cleaned up, I went upstairs, grabbed my iPod loaded with “The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam,” and descended into audiobook heaven with Simon Vance. Next year, a real turkey I think.

  5. Jennifer November 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Ah, is it possible to fall in love with a voice. I think I have. Thank you for the lovely recording and sentiments.

  6. Arika October 7, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Your narration excerpt is excellent! Your voice is perfect for this.
    Thanks for sharing this with us!

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