In case it may have escaped your attention my surname is Baker.
It is likely therefore that someone in my ancestry earned his living making bread.
Nothing remarkable about that. A vast proportion of the names of those whose families have been resident in these islands for a few centuries bear names that give evidence of occupational connections.
Loading article content
However, if the modern trend to give people fancier job descriptions as a cheaper alternative to pay rises had been around in the middle ages, then my name today might easily be Colin Bread Creation Operative. A combination of political correctness and a disinclination to tell it how it is has resulted in a bizarre evolution in job descriptions.
The train I was on a couple of weeks ago had a senior conductor, whom I can only imagine is what we might hitherto have called the guard. There was no sign of anyone who might be described as a junior conductor.
Secretaries have all but vanished off the face of the earth; anyone worth their screen radiation filter and ergonomic keyboard is now termed a personal assistant or communications facilitator.
And that blight of the BBC the accountant has cleaned up his image as a dry-as-dust stifler of creativity, by evolving effortlessly into the new, user friendly, financial executive.
At the same time insurance salesmen have shifted the world's perception of their main aim in life, by restyling themselves as financial advisers. Sell you something? Not us guv, just want to help you, that's all!
And no one must be seen to be doing a job that others might (however unreasonably) consider demeaning. Rat catchers are rodent control operatives; dustmen are refuse disposal contractors; plumbers are sanitary engineers; odd-job men sport titles like service provision officer.
I suspect that the people who perform these very important jobs were perfectly content with their former simpler and more accurate descriptions. The grander sounding names are more often than not yet another way of avoiding paying a decent wage to the worker. Give him a job description massage, and he may do the same job for less money.
Words used to be employed simply to describe and inform. Nowadays, they are more frequently used to deceive and confuse, to lull the customer, lure the consumer and, of course, extract a cross in the right place from the voter.
That new and unloved phenomenon the spin-doctor evolved to achieve precisely that.
Funnily enough acting is one profession that has escaped this new speak. In fact, our job description has got simpler. We are now commonly known by that awful word that makes my skin crawl luvvies just because a handful of high profile, old hams have given the false impression that the bulk of our profession are an insincere bunch of show-offs.
And in case you think I've been exaggerating, last year Liverpool Council decided that the term road sweeper was inappropriate. The men and women who clean that city's streets are now known as street scene operatives.
Did you know that AD and BC are on their way out? Using the same numbering system, schoolchildren are taught we are now in 2002 CE (Common Era). It's better to be common than Christian these days.