Many years ago when walking my two daughters to and from infant school we used to pass a house where a man was often tending to his garden.
We got to know this man – Ernie – Ernie Frost and his lady friend, Peggy (who he always referred to as: ‘aye, she waarms me feet!’) In a thick northern accent.
Ernie always stopped to chat. He would share Peggy’s cakes and biscuits with us. He would tell us what he’d planted in the garden and show the girls little shoots of plants as they grew and let the girls pick the flowers when they were in bloom. If he wasn’t outside then he would always wave from the window.
The girls always looked forward to seeing Ernie and would eagerly show him what they had made at school that day.
Ernies parting words were always, ‘Eeeh, isn’t it nice to be nice?’
‘Isn’t it nice to be nice?’ became a catchphrase between my daughters and me!
As the girls grew into teenagers and moved school we’d see Ernie riding his bike in town and he’d wave and call out ‘Nice to be nice!’
Years passed and I’d see him in the local pub with Peggy and he’d say to me ‘Eeeh I miss seeing those bonny bairns going to school. Give them my love and tell them it’s nice to be nice!’
Time has marched on, the girls have left home, Ernie has died but often when I’m pondering in my little corner my mind wanders back to my daughters’ school days and I fondly remember Ernie.
And yes, isn’t it nice to be nice?!