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Word Count: 1,116
In the preface Shaw describes the Oxford phonetician Henry Sweet on whom Professor Higgins is modeled but warns us that Higgins is not a portrait of Sweet Shaw says that he wrote the play in order to make the English aware of the importance of phonetics and he is grateful that the play has been a great success on the stage He complains that the way English is written has little to do with the way it is pronounced and he pleads for a new alphabet and a reform in spelling A heavy late-night summer thunderstorm opens the play Caught in the unexpected downpour passersby from distinct strata of the London streets are forced to seek shelter together under the portico of St Pauls church in Covent Garden The hapless Son is forced by his demanding sister and mother to go out into the rain to find a taxi even though there is none to be found In his hurry he knocks over the basket of a common Flower Girl who says to him Nah then Freddy look wh y gowin deah After Freddy leaves the mother gives the Flower Girl money to ask how she knew her sons name only to learn that Freddy is a common by-word the Flower Girl would have used to address anyone An elderly military Gentleman enters from the rain and the Flower Girl tries to sell him a flower He gives her some change but a bystander tells her to be careful for it looks like there is a police informer taking copious notes on her activities This leads to hysterical protestations on her part that she is only a poor girl who has done no wrong The refugees from the rain crowd around her and the Note Taker with considerable hostility towards the latter whom they believe to be an undercover cop However each time someone speaks up this mysterious man has the amusing ability to determine
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