I have mentioned here before that both my parents worked in a psychiatric hospital during the 1980s. As a consequence they both advised me never to become a nurse.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if the caring, nursing gene that belongs to previous generations had been passed onto me, and I ignored their advice and became one anyway.

It also intrigues me to know what kind of reaction my job would have got from others.

Reaction as a journalist can usually be divided into one of two broad camps. Either people assume you lead a life of extreme glamour, rushing round the globe to interview celebrities at a moment's notice. Or, they equate your job with the lowest of the guttersnipes, pausing only from chasing after ambulances to pursue Princess Diana's car into a tunnel. Getting in first that you write about health policy tends to temper both.

However I have never yet felt the need to stave off either reaction by announcing first off what I do for a living. Obsessed as we are with asking each other what we do, such behaviour still seems distinctly un-English.

Although I did meet someone the other week who proclaimed - and these were literally the first words out of his mouth - that he was a member of one of the Life Guards, who stand stock still outside Horse Guards Parade (he had the photos to prove it).

I am yet to meet anyone working in the NHS who would be so eager to tell the world what they do before basic pleasantries have been exchanged.

Saying that, I do not know many doctors, let alone consultants. Are they an exception? To enlighten me, readers, do health service managers proclaim their profession at social gatherings? Events at the NHS Confederation conference (we got the first lot of information about this year's last week; like Christmas, it seems to get earlier every year) do not count, by the way.

Could a few more managers being introduced to strangers at parties with the words: 'I'm an NHS manager and I'm proud' capture a new spirit? I dare you to give it a go (HSJ will not be held liable for any adverse effects on your popularity).