Well, here are the answers. The following are all real historical professions:
- Corn badger - someone who traded in corn, basically.
- Wet salter - either someone who preserved fish, or someone who made leather using the wet-salting method. Apparently there are lots of things you can do with water and salt. Who knew?
- Sluggard waker - someone whose job it was to wake up people who'd fallen asleep in church, generally with a long stick.
- Gong farmer - someone who went around emptying out privies, i.e. toilets, and carrying all the dung out of town in a big vat. Sounds quite colossally stinky.
- Donkey puncher - someone who operated a steam donkey. Nothing to do with punching donkeys, or indeed any other unsavoury uses of the term that you may have heard (but should not definitely not Google at work!).
- Royal pantler - member of the king's household who was in charge of the pantry, particularly anything to do with serving bread. Also called a "panter", which is an even sillier name.
- Slopseller - someone who made and sold cheap clothes ("slops"). Presumably it was possible to sell slops sloppily on the sea shore, so long as you did it slowly enough.
- Chaff-wax - someone who fannied around with sealing wax on legal documents, apparently.
- Chopchurch - A clergyman who exchanged ecclestiastical benefices. A very large axe was not required, sadly.
- Bottom knocker - boy who shaped the bottoms of big pots in the pottery industry. I'm sure you can make up your own jokes by now.
This of course means that bark fiddler, stag baron, wicksucker, pork butler, and buzzard-grace were the FAKES and entirely made up by me. Apologies to anyone who was practising gracing a buzzard or fiddling with bark, just in case there were any vacancies.
Speaking of job opportunities, I have rather been enjoying Design For Life, the Beeb's latest twist on Apprentice-esque reality TV, in which a gaggle of budding designers have to try to impress avant-garde French lemon-squeezer supremo Philippe Starck in order to win a work placement with him. Having said that, the main joy of the show is Philippe's delightful approach to the English language, which makes up in charm and enthusiasm what it lacks in comprehensibility. If only French people found my own accent (when I speak French to them) half as entertaining, my bid for European domination wouldn't be in as poor a shape as it is. Quel dommage, dahleeng, as Philippe would probably say to me...