It took me back, did Monica Dux’s ‘The Nice Age’ – back to my days in the classroom. You see, I too had a ‘thing’ against the word ‘nice’ – and imparted that to my students. It was part of my start of the year spiel – always. From henceforth those two words, plus ‘lot(s)’ and ‘got(ten)’ would be banned from their writings. Grossly over-used words, you see. They would note that, in any piece I assessed, said words would be gently underlined and if too many appeared, their rating would be reduced. Of course, in reality, I was only aiming at a certain few – some students struggled to put a sentence together at all, so there was no point with those cherubs. I was happy if they were able to string together four correctly spelt words to make something that made sense. This was really aimed at those who had some potential in various forms of writing. And a few of my treasures did go on to make a name for themselves as poets, novelists and in journalism. Probably I had little impact on them, in any case, as they had innate talent – but it’s always good to say they owe their success to my superb teaching. Maybe, just maybe, some of what I tried to impart sank in; that they’d recall my tirades against ‘lot, got, nice and thing’.
So I was akin to Ms Dux’s Grade 7 English instructor and I thought it appropriate to discover that ‘nice’ had its roots in Latin, originally meaning ‘ignorant’. But then MD goes on to mount a case for the rehabilitation of the ever so sweet word. She waxes lyrical on the ‘niceness’ she has experienced in recent times – specifically an episode she’d had in Melbourne’s CBD with a ‘nice’ truck driver. Why anyone would want to drive into the centre of Yarra City, with its trams and trains providing stress-free alternatives, is beyond me. In my own dealings with Melburnians, during my many trips over the years, I have always found them to be wonderfully ‘nice’ in any situation. I’ve often noted, in my scribings about my sojourns, their collective niceness, especially the nice waiters in the city’s eateries and the nice salespeople in its shops. And I love the niceness of the younger people who give up their seats for this old fella on the public transport to the various locations I hang out in. For me it’s the nicest city in the country.
Yes, I really appreciate niceness in everyday life, but if I had my time over, I still wouldn’t change my not so nice attitude to nice – so there.
Monica Dux’s opinion piece = https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/the-nice-age-20190124-h1afc3.html