I was wandering past one of my locals the other day (OK, it’s a fair cop, I was in my local), and a friend of mine said to me, ‘The Chef’s broken! How do you mend a broken chef? It’s going to take a lot more than a new cam belt. We’re looking at a complete engine rebuild.’ From this I deduced that the Chef* must be wassocked, or ‘overly refreshed.’**

Some of you may find it strange that we call him Chef, along with the fact that I refer to another of my friends as the Electrician, and another acquaintance as the Plumber. But it’s not that weird, if you think about it. Lots of English surnames are derived from jobs or professions.

I’ve known a Boatwright, and I can’t see her sawing wood. Tanners. I’ve known a few of them, and given what they used to use to tan leather I’m glad I never met the ancestors. I wouldn’t be too keen on meeting the original Fullers either. No thanks.

Leadbeaters. I have known one of those, but he was a toff and pronounced it ‘leadbetter,’ since he had no intention of getting his hands dirty working lead. I knew a very posh Joiner, who spelt his name Joyner. Shepherds? Yep. Mind you, Sam Shepard in the US may have ideas above his station. Talking of Hollywood, John Carpenter. Still in Tinseltown, Minnie Driver. I often wonder if her parents thought that one through before making the decision. Carrie Fisher.

Warren/Warrener. Couple of these at school. Originally warreners maintained rabbit warrens when the perfidious French introduced the pesky lagomorphs into England from France. Smith, obviously (and the Chinese equivalent Chang, which is delightfully onomatopoeic, isn’t it?). Squire. Knight. Forester. Archer. Bowman. Collier. Cook. Cutler. Gardener. My friend the Electrician is actually a Potter. The list goes on. And these are ones just off the top of my head.

Referring to Chef, Electrician, and Plumber doesn’t seem too odd now, does it?

*Real name Chris, but hardly anybody calls him that.

**Or ‘tired and overemotional’ as Private Eye used to describe the Labour foreign secretary George Brown as he got poured into his limo.