Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Kip Baker (Le. 1965-68) has lived quite a life. He is an interpreter, specialising in French to English translation. He spoke to us about his diverse career - from hotelier to professional diver and about days spent swimming in the pool with friends, during his time at the College.

When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’? 

Rich! My mother had decided that I would run a hotel in a sunny paradise, and so in order to be able to converse coherently with guests, I would have to be on some sort of a par with them. I learnt to scuba dive at 15, and to fly and got my pilot's licence at 16. I was sent to France to live with families there during the summer months to learn French. I started skiing early and was certified by the French ski federation (FFS) to teach juniors at 16. Once I left the College I spent another 7 months in France, mostly skiing, before going to Brighton Tech Hotel School to learn hotel administration. 

Tell us about yourself now you've grown up. 

Grown Up! Don’t ever do that! That’s when boring happens! 

What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers? 

That I managed to survive not being a spoilt rich brat! 

What are your favourite memories of your time at school? 

Spending time with RSM Chris O’Connell and spending much of my time in the swimming pool. I even didn’t mind cleaning my kit on a Sunday evening ready for the CCF parade on Monday afternoon! 

What advice would you give to your school-age self? 

Try not to spend too much time looking at yourself. Smile, and try to be kind. I know at that age it’s all about you but actually, you grow quicker by helping others. 

What do you do as a career? 

Simply put, I’m a problem solver. Once I’d decided that (as a young, cocky chap) I wasn’t going to work in an industry bowing and scraping to the foibles and whims of the over-privileged, and I had to get a job. I did a course to become a commercial diver and that’s what I did for several years, which was certainly not glamorous! I was cold & sea-sick most of the time, but I worked on the construction of the Brighton marina, oil rigs in the North Sea, pipeline surveying... all sorts of things.

I was young when I got married, which wasn't very compatible with me being at sea for weeks on end, so I got a job in administration (problem-solving) for an Epsom based civil engineering company working on the Algerian national steelworks near the Tunisian border. From there, I worked as the project administrator for a British construction company building the Cameroon national paper pulp mill. 

Eventually, I made it back to the UK and worked as the company administrator for the largest importer of domestic glassware.  In fact, I’m the inventor of the smoked glass range! Mugs, plates, bowls: that sort of stuff. I could go on, but it’s all been about solving problems. 

What does your work involve? 

Mostly I’m now retired, however in order to not go too doolally I work as an English / French interpreter both face to face and on the telephone. 

What are the most challenging parts of your job

Currently, the most challenging part is remaining calm in the face of rudeness and selfishness. 

What are you most proud of? 

Looking in the rearview mirror and remembering those who I’ve helped. 

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island? 

A hat, a bottle of water and a radio!

How would you like to be remembered? 

With a smile, but I’m realistic enough to know that I’ll actually be remembered by no one! 

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