I couldn’t think of the word posh without thinking of the story of Eliza Doolittle who wanted to learn how to talk like a lady.
I’ve seen the classic film “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison more than once and I’ve seen a couple of amateur productions of it on the stage.
For those who don’t know it “My Fair Lady” is based on a play by George Bernard Shaw called “Pygmalion”. The play in turn was based on Greek mythology, the story of a sculptor who created a beautiful statue of a woman and fell in love with it.
In the film Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, asks Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics to give her lessons on how to speak properly so that she can get a job in a flower shop. Professor Higgins was not really interested until his friend Colonel Pickering bet him that he couldn’t turn her into a lady who could mix in high society and not be found out.
I have to admit that although I like the film and the story I never cared for the Henry Higgins character. I thought he was snobbish and bad mannered. He may have been qualified to teach Eliza to speak nicely but he certainly did not act like a gentleman. As I was only a teenager when I first saw the film I also wondered why on earth Eliza would fall in love with such a nasty man. Perhaps it was just Rex Harrison’s portrayal, the last time I saw it as a play the actor playing Professor Higgins, who was just an amateur in a small local repertory company, actually made me feel some sympathy for his character at the end when he realises he misses Eliza.
There are some great scenes though, not only the ones where Eliza is learning to talk posh. The scenes with her father Alfred P Doolittle are fun too. Mrs Higgins, the Professors mother, has a couple of good scenes as well.
Eliza succeeded in learning to speak like a lady and fooled everyone at a grand function . The way we speak can influence what people think of us as much as the way we look.