AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Joel Payne and the earth is my platform.
My major memories are more of the East-West Corridor. Anywhere between Tunapuna and Port of Spain could be home.
I say I’m from Trinidad but I should say I’m from Trinidad and Tobago. Because, although Mum was Trini, she was raised in Tobago, Calder Hall, so we’re really Tobagonians that migrated to Trinidad.
So my dad was Bajan and my mum Trinbagonian.
I went to school in Barbados but I grew up in Cinnamon Hill, Tobago. We spent all of our Easter, Christmas and summer holidays at my aunt’s home.
Back then we could catch a LIAT plane straight to Tobago. We would go across to Trinidad for a little two-three days to shop.
I tell people I was born in a BeeWee plane between Trinidad and Barbados but I was really born in Barbados.
And I really feel in-between Trinidad and Barbados.
When I’m in Barbados, I talk about Brian Lara being the greatest thing in West Indies cricket. And, when I’m in Trinidad, I (say the same thing) about Garry Sobers!
I’m a natural contrarian and agree with BC Pires that makes me more Trini than Bajan.
Because the instinct in Barbados is to conform, and in Trinidad, to ask, “Why I have to do that?”
We think things are bad in Barbados.
But when you go to Trinidad, you see people living in a mud hut. The poverty in Barbados isn’t the same. There is no place in Barbados that is ghetto.
My mom was a big Pentecost in Trinidad, had us at church every Sunday and Wednesday.
I lost my dad early, age 11. I lost my mum six months after I came back from UWI.
It put a kind of question. Seriously, God? They got so many people out there doing foolishness and you take my mother?
That was a little hurdle (in my faith).
You need to believe in something greater. Whether you believe in Chelsea, Allah, God, whatever, you need to have something that you figure, “This is!” And you just put your focus on that.
We’re all here for a purpose. We won’t know if our thoughts are right until we close our eyes and the curtains come down.
West Indies used to (dominate) world cricket when the Bajans were in control. But then they gave the power to the Trinidadians…
If BC Pires says to me that West Indies benefited from the imagination of Trini players, I say it was more like the mamaguy-ance.
I started supporting Manchester United when Dwight Yorke played for them. Seeing Yorke’s poster plastered all over Piarco Airport, a little Trinbago boy, one of the lead United players…
And the Tobago connection, ah-wee boy, Shurwayne Winchester.
I’ve stuck with United, even though times have been more hard than good recently. But City is still a joke!
If you don’t stand up for something, you end up accepting anything.
I work as a contractor/consultant. The consultant side seems to be trumping the contractor side at the moment.
Growing up in Trinidad, I fell in love with these Indian movies on TV every Sunday.
In fifth form in Harrison College, this girl with this nice, long Indian hair came up to me and said she liked me. She wanted to be a doctor.
So I looked to see what I could study to get to go to Trinidad. I knew maths, physics, I say I going and do engineering.
But when we got down to Trinidad, she fell back into her pitch and went out with an Indian guy. So I was chasing love and ended up an engineer.
I didn’t have a clue what civil engineering was when I started my degree, and three years later, I came out of UWI and still didn’t have a clue.
Only when I worked with a construction company, I really started to understand civil engineering.
At UWI, I had field training in a lab! It took me a year of work to see where “the sag” I used to calculate in the lab came (into play) in real life.
Stress levels have risen in Barbados in recent times. I think we’re bringing too many Trinis! Seriously.
Ten, 15 years ago, you could take nine months to build a house, no problem. Now? Three, four months, people tapping their foot. Trinidad, Jamaica, they were always, “Time is money!” Barbados was always, whenever you done, you done.
The (Trini/Jamaican approach) is a good thing. But it also brings the stress. Just now we will call the island Trini-bados!
Music is life and there is Jamaican music, American music, all kinds of music, but it is just a fact that you can’t beat Trini music.
And soca is just one style of Trini music. You have pan, calypso, parang… Don’t matter your mood, you have a particular Trini music you could play. You put Olatunji anywhere in the world (and he’d make it).
The worst movie I ever saw came out of Trinidad. It was called Bazodee.
I love Machel Montano’s music. But sometimes you got to stick to what you good at.
When I say the earth is my platform, I feel that, don’t matter where I go, I feel I could fit in. And perform. Once I here, I go put on a show. And bring a smile, a laugh, bring happiness to whoever.
You could carry me Gaza Strip, India, Africa, England, don’t matter. I feel comfortable when I reach.
I present myself as who I am. If you don’t like me, that’s on you. But this is who I am, you take it or leave it.
The only continents I’ve not travelled to are Africa and Asia.
I like to tell people I speak seven languages but I only speak English. I got 13 per cent in Spanish and 14 per cent in French at school.
We had to choose one language so I chose French. I was one per cent better at that. I end up getting a two.
I can listen to and (roughly) translate French conversations today.
One night, leaving a club, I (got behind the driver’s seat and) in the car and told Bajan friends, “Allyuh, I drunk eh! Somebody else should drive!”
Notice, I said, “allyuh,” not “wunna.” That shoulda be the first sign I was drunk. But them ent listening.
A car (coming along the road). I pull out (fast). Blue lights come on. Police car.
Officer say, “You didn’t see me?”
I say, “Officer, I see a car coming, I thought you wanted my park, I pull out fast to give you.”
Is only 20 minutes after that, when I get out the car to vomit, they realise I was really drunk. But I had told them!
In everything, I see the silver lining. But a lot of my Bajan friends aren’t optimistic.
To me, a Trinbagonian is some person that is passionate, full of rhythm and know what they’re about.
To me, Trinidad and Tobago is a revelation, is life, is everything. Is Carnival, is music. Good times, bad times. Source of power, source of everything.
Everything that I have, I feel it came from Trinidad.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com