I was in the pub with Mrs A the other night, the two of us enjoying a rare chance to go out and have a few drinks. After we had been there a while, and feeling somewhat er, relaxed (ahem), I accidentally let slip a comment along the lines of ‘Well, isn’t this nice?’
Mrs A sharply (and rightly) pulled me up on my use of such an anodyne word. We quickly agreed that the establishment we were in was in fact welcoming, imaginatively decorated, cleverly lit and well stocked with refreshing and, er, relaxing drinks. These observations led us to also agree that it was not ‘nice’.
However, as Mrs A pointed out, some things are nice. A perfect Victoria sponge cake is the epitome of nice, as is a good cup of ordinary tea. It is nice to briefly greet strangers while you are both out walking your dogs. The sort of friends whose company you enjoy but who never remotely surprise you are also nice.
The things that are truly nice are few and far between. There are many experiences in life that are faintly lovely, but not precisely nice. Nice things are neither pretentious nor open to pretention, they are simple but not particularly elegant; for things that are truly nice, once you have said they are nice there is nothing much left to say.
To be nice is not however a bad thing. And I do like a nice slice of Victoria sponge cake.