First day at Primary School.
New class, check.
New friends, check.
Shiny new school bag, check.
Bell rings, children run about, and a teacher directs everyone to their various classrooms. We are introduced to our new teacher. I forget her name, as I have for all my teachers’ names; The lesson introductions begin.
We get through to break time and all is going well. Change of guard at lunch and then home later on. A great first day.
I am not sure when we had English lessons in our second year but it all started rather well. Very well if you were a piromaniac as the day was going to get very exciting.
We entered the classroom and took our seats. Mrs “Nice”, for that’s what I will call her for now, informed us that we would be taking English with her for the rest of the year.
Now we all know that language classes are important for stringing coherent sentences together and creating generally interesting and meaningful stories.
What we were about to learn would be more than just a language skill but a life skill!
She began the lesson, telling us about nouns and verbs and that adjectives were vital to adding detail. Then very calmly she reached for her bin.
We continued to listen in the way a young school kid listens to anything, and didn’t really expect too much.
Placing the bin on the desk she carried on talking and took a piece of paper from the pile of books beside her. It had the word “NICE” written on it.
She proceeded to use such interesting and colourful language while she explained the beauty in the way words could be used. How they evoke feelings of passion and anger. How, from a single descriptive sentence in a book, you can understand the mood, dress and posture of the main character.
How shadows can move and emulate evil or how the sun can be searingly hot on a summers day. All wonderful images for our young minds.
She stopped for a pause and said, “So why would you want to use the word (and holding the piece of paper up) “NICE” to explain everything?”
“The room is nice, the food is nice, the house next door is nice!” Then, rising to her feet, she proceeded to look us all in the eye. Still waving the piece of paper.
The atmosphere in the room had changed. We were starting to sit upright in our chairs. The beautiful radiant sunshine outside seemed to have changed to dark looming clouds.
“You will not and will NEVER use this word in any of your writing in my class!”
With that she took a lighter from her back pocket. Lit the corner of the piece of paper and as the flames grew and enveloped the word “NICE” she looked at us. Quietly we all watched as the white paper blackened and as she dropped the burning piece of paper in the bin the last flash of light from the burning paper leaped up in one dramatic flash, as if trying to hang on for dear life before going out.
This lesson has stuck with me till this very day. Nothing in the world is nice. It is a nonplus word, a word without force, without decision, without offense. It doesn’t convey passion, it has no anger and feels slightly worse than a damp fish.
I have always tried to apply Mrs Nice’s lesson to my whole life. If I accept that it is nice, I am neither happy nor upset at what happened today. I am not bothered about the effort the food took to make, because I didn’t try to explain the herbs and spices I can taste or the textures of the foods.
This world should never have the word “NICE” used to describe it. It is anything but nice!
It is a world of infinite colour and delicate sounds. A world full of emotions and passions. This world and the life within it both feels and touches every other life within its reach. There is no place for the word nice.
Today, try to explain the beauty in the flowers you see, or explain the smell of cooking foods. Taste something new and try to guess the herbs and spices.
I think our screens have something to do with this feeling of mediocrity. We cannot smell, touch or taste the world within a screen. We can see and hear but in a way that we alter it. You want more bass in your music you can do that. More colour on your screen, no problem, just turn the saturation level up.
The emotions we feel towards real events is always different and more vibrant than from a screen. I don’t want to take for granted a walk around my neighbourhood or a new city and think it’s nice. Neither should you!
Admire the gardens, look at the graffiti and feel the sun or cold. Try to experience it all by explaining what is around you. Then you will see this amazing world and the life that inhabits it and realise how amazing it is.
Above all, remove the word ‘nice’ from your vocabulary!