In Focus
The Girl Chewing Gum 1976 by John Smith

ISBN 978-1-84976-413-1

Original script for the voiceover to The Girl Chewing Gum

This is a transcription of the original typescript for the voiceover written by Smith as he edited the film, reproduced courtesy of the artist. Its content differs slightly from the final voiceover used by Smith.
Directions –
Slowly move the trailer to the left....and I want the little girl to run across, now. Hold that trailer there.......Now move the trailer off.
Right – now I want the old man with white hair and glasses to cross the road – come on, quickly..... look this way, now walk off to the left. OK, fine.
Now let’s have the man in the peaked cap....put the cigarette in your mouth......good........and I want the two girls to come in from the right talking to each other.
Now I want the Jamaican family, father first – look in front of the mother and the two boys......and I want the smaller boy to point to the right, and now cast a glance behind him.
Now I want the bus ticket to blow across the pavement.
Fine – now I want the girl with the bag under her arm to walk to the right. Now let’s have the man rubbing his eye......good.
Right. Now I want everything to sink slowly down as the five boys come by.......hold it......and I want the clock to move jerkily towards me....stop.
Now I want the long hand to move at the rate of one revolution every hour, and the short hand to move at the rate of one revolution every twelve hours.....fine.
Now two pigeons fly across, and everything comes up again until the girl chewing gum walks across from the left.
OK. Now – the van, the woman, and the boy...the man with the bag of chips, the car roof, the whole car, the old man, the car, the car and the boy, the boy, the motorcyclist and the lorry.
Now when the woman at the window looks in this direction, I want everything to move a bit further away.
Right – let’s have the man in the white boiler suit coming in from the right......stop at the lamp-post and fold your look around you........
walk back to the left again, and look left and right as you cross the road.....
Now I want the man reading exchange and mart to come in from the right.
Now a man comes by and bites his nails, two pigeons fly past from right to left and two boys run past from left to right.....the woman at the window looks this way and then goes on talking.
In a second I want four boys to come from the left, and I want one of them to look this way and flap his arms up and down. I’d like the boys to remain in more or less the same position, while everything else moves to the left and goes away a bit at the same time.......Got that?.....OK.......go.
Lift up your arm – now bring it down.
Now I want the man with the turban and briefcase to come in from the right, and now the van marked ‘University of London, Senate House, London WC1’.
In the cinema queue, I want to see a boy and his mother. The boy will be about eight years old, and his mother about thirty-two. They will both have collar-length hair, his dark and hers fair – she will be wearing a suedette coat with a white imitation fur collar. They will be talking to each other and looking around them. The boy will look at his watch and yawn, then look at it again and say something to his mother about the time.
Now I want the man coming in from the left in the grey peaked cap to put on his glasses. The three children eating chips, the French woman, the window-cleaner in his van, the greengrocer, the pigeon, the red jaguar, the taxi, the van, the man, the negro with the briefcase and the newspaper, the woman firmly gripping the hands of her two young sons. They stop, and now they cross the road.
The man in the grey peaked cap takes off his glasses again and puts them in his breast pocket. The man with the walking stick is going home. The dentist continues on his way to the bank, and the two naughty boys appear from behind Steele’s and cautiously cross the road.
Steele’s the plate glass manufacturers is situated in an area with a high immigrant population, predominantly West Indians and Greeks. Outside the building, above its main doors, is a board advertising vacancies at the firm. Until recently, I thought that jobs were advertised on the board in two languages – English and Greek. However, a few weeks ago, I studied the board carefully, and realised that I had been wrong. Each vacancy has its own slat in the board – the words (glass-cutters, bevellers, bench fitters etc.) are cut out of these slats, which are made of perspex. When a vacancy no longer exists, the slat advertising it, which has a central pivot at each end, is swivelled around. The words that I had believed to be Greek were in fact upside-down and back to front English. Steele’s also has another interesting feature. Along each wall of the building, there are eight large doors that are kept wide open throughout the year.
I am speaking into a megaphone, which I am pointing at a microphone, on the outskirts of Epping Forest – about ten miles from the building you are looking at. The traffic noise will now fade down. I am standing on the edge of an enormous golf course, and there are trees behind me and to my left. In the distance I can see three golfers. One of them is wearing a blue jumper, and the other two are both wearing red. They are all men. The shortest of the three is standing by a trolley, which is laden with their clubs. The one with the blue jumper, who seems much older than the other two, is looking this way. Now the short one has put a ball on the ground and is taking a club from the trolley. I think he’s got a helicopter in his pocket. In a tree about fifteen yards away, I can see a large blackbird with a wingspan of about nine feet.
This young man has just robbed the local post office and is attempting to appear inconspicuous. He is trying to remain calm, but his hand is sweating as he grips the butt of the revolver in his raincoat pocket even harder. He is wondering whether the woman at the window would recognise him if she saw him again. The burglar alarm is still ringing.
Now disappear.
John Smith

How to cite

‘Original script for the voiceover to The Girl Chewing Gum’, in Erika Balsom (ed.), In Focus: 'The Girl Chewing Gum' 1976 by John Smith, Tate Research Publication, 2015,, accessed 23 March 2018.