AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Janine Laronde-Andrew and, 33 years after my sister, Giselle Laronde, won the 1986 pageant, I’m still introduced as, “Miss World’s sister.”
I was born in and have now lived longer in Port of Spain but I still think of myself as coming from San Fernando. I lived most of my childhood and stuff in Battoo Lands, Marabella.
I have three siblings – everyone knows my sister Giselle! My two younger brothers are Marcel and Maurice. Giselle is the eldest.
My husband, Dr Colin Andrew – he’s a dentist – and I got married in 1997. We have two daughters, Monique, who’s doing fashion design in Paris, and Emma, who is a far better artist than I was at her age.
Colin is Scottish but he doesn’t have the accent now. Mostly, he sounds Trini to the bone! He roomed with a Trinidadian at university in Glasgow and visited his friend in Trinidad and had a ball. Sunshine, warmth, fantastic, friendly people, great food – kinda like the opposite of Scotland!
Back in Scotland, he was so depressed, he phoned his friend and asked him to find him a one-year job in Trinidad. He’s still here.
Within a year of meeting him, I would have said, “Yes” if he asked me to marry him because he was such a kind and lovely person.
But Colin waited five long years to make sure he got his residency status on his own in Trinidad before he proposed. He didn’t want me to ever “throw that in his face.”
One Christmas, Colin gave me a microwave. I was not pleased.
The next year, he gave me another huge box. Inside, there was another box. Inside, another one, literally ten boxes wrapped in another box, like Russian dolls.
When I opened the last, tiny box, and saw the ring, I said, “So what does this mean?”
After he made me wait five years, I made him get on to his knee.
All now so, if he hadn’t waited until he got his residency, our children would be finished university instead of just starting!
When we were children, I was the girly sister. Giselle was very tomboyish. She climbed the trees, played with the boys, was very sporty, wasn’t into makeup, dresses and hair. It was strange, because she didn’t like to dress up, but she liked modelling and she
loved to be on stage.
I (preferred) the background. I even had hesitations about doing this interview.
I enjoyed going to St Peter’s in Pointe-a-Pierre, primary and secondary, because you didn’t have to do any SEA and stuff and we had so much freedom and our teachers weren’t extremely strict. We had lovely PE sessions you just don’t get any more in schools: badminton; hockey; football; lawn tennis; swimming; hiking.
In the actual schoolwork, well, I was never one of the brightest bulbs. I was always good at art – my teacher always said I would go somewhere with it – and I did accomplish well enough.
I got an A at O-Level and got a scholarship to go to school in England but, sadly, back then, art wasn’t considered “a thing.” What? Become an artist? And do what? Paint?
My parents weren’t all that interested in me going to England to study.
I went to an international fine arts school in Florida. My parents didn’t mind that, because Florida was right there (not like faraway England).
I had to cook for myself, walk to school with a huge portfolio blowing in the wind, stay by myself in an apartment.
The first day I was there, there was a shooting in the alley behind the apartment! I was s--t-scared.
I was doing very well in my course but my dad got ill at Christmas and my mom said I shouldn’t go back.
I got very depressed. Stayed home for maybe a year wondering what to do.
Then I went to Canada and got a diploma in cosmetology and became a hairdresser.
I worked for a hairstyling firm and then opened my own little shop. And that’s when I met Colin. I worked up to nine months after Monique was born. But then I realised I wasn’t seeing her! You work Monday to Saturday, long hours. When I got home, she was sleeping!
So I stayed home to take care of my family.
Growing up with Giselle, I wasn’t jealous. A lot of attention was put on her but that’s just how she is – and I am who I am.
I was in England when she won – it wasn’t something we were expecting to happen, apart from my mom. It was just fantastic. We were all elated.
Once she won, we hardly saw her. She was gone for a year – she came home for Christmas – but you literally had to have an appointment to see her.
We still get along very well. But I still get introduced as her sister. Sometimes I get introduced as Janine Andrew – and I wait and I wait – and then the person says, “the artist,” and I think, “Okay, maybe I made my own mark.”
I’d done a short watercolour course in Barbados while I was pregnant with Monique. And that made me start enjoying drawing and painting again. I had my first exhibition in 2002. I was able to produce 40-something pieces. I’ve done seven solo and quite a few joint exhibitions. My last was in 2015.
I thought I would be able to do more work as the kids got older but it was the opposite: I had to do more for them. Taxi driver to sports, Mummy pick-up-and-drop.
I wouldn’t call myself a painter, but an artist. A painter is somebody who paints a house.
I paint from photographs and I do, like, four at a time. I’ll do four drawings of whatever – I like to do a wide variety of things. I’ll paste all four up. Then I’ll paint all the skies, four skies, because I’m using blue. I try not to waste. Then I’ll work on the foliage until I’m bogged down.
When I realise I’m sticking, I’ll move on to another one before I mess up; that’s how I work.
Some people like to finish one painting before starting another one. I find that too boring. I rather work on four pieces and have them all finished at the same time.
Given that Trinidadians are very warm and open, I honestly don’t find that they really love their country. Why is there so much rubbish? Why do people throw things out the car window? They wouldn’t do that away, why do it here?
Trinis are people who make themselves at home wherever they go. Trinis adjust to whatever situation is thrown at them.
For me, TT means family. And also the fun people have when they come together, no matter creed, religion or race; you don’t get that in many places!
Read the full version of this feature on Wednesday at www.BCPires.com