AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Noel Simeon and I am the same age as Trinidad and Tobago.
Everybody calls me Si-oh. I would give you the reason why: in the early days, when people saw the spelling, they would pronounce my last name as “Simon” and I keep telling them, “Is not Simon, is Sim-e-on!” But they just keep on saying Simon.
And then for short, they start to say Si-oh.
And I comfortable with Si-oh. A lot of people don’t like their nicknames, but I like mines.
I’m from Maraval. Since from the age of seven I went to Boissiere Village to live with my grandmother.
I’m from a big family. Two sisters, five brothers.
My wife is Helen and my three boys are Marvin, Shawn and Joel.
How you mean? Of course I remember the TV show My Three Sons.
We used to go in the Maraval River as boys. That time, across the river from me, was the old St Andrew’s Golf Course. You could say I grew up there. I used to caddy and all kinda thing. All the great golfers who passed through Trinidad, I saw them.
Maraval has changed plenty since I’ve been living there. Yep!
I would say I was a follower of West Indies cricket from birth. My father, when we going to the Oval, would say, “We must see the first ball bowl!”
So, yes, I saw some of our great teams. I see Lawrence Rowe, Sobers, Joey Carew, all them guys.
I went Boissiere Primary. I loved school but I didn’t go to secondary because of certain circumstances. It had a period in my life when I regretted that, but now, no.
In my early days, my father had send me to learn trade, which was carpentry, and that is how I end up getting the job in 1979 that I still hold down right now.
Not in carpentry but in TTT.
At the time, my father had known a guy working at TTT and, within talk, he said he had a son doing carpentry. And TTT wanted a carpenter.
When I came to interview for the carpentry job, they tell me I was too young. But they had other things I could do and I said yes.
And that is how I ended up in television. I was 17.
Over the years, over a period of time, they trained me as a cameraman. In the carpentry shop, I was like the helper.
And after one year, when I reach the age, I came inside as a prop man. I used to put up sets for local TV shows. 12 and Under. Rikki Tikki. Community Dateline.
I have been working all my life as a cameraman since about 1986. You could say all the programmes on TTT, any name and I worked on it. At Home with Sylvia Hunte. TNT Tonight. Many others.
Other than hustling home from school to get a sweat, house party was it in Maraval. Soul music! Love it, man!
But Bob Marley was my favourite. Bob Marley, Bob Marley, Bob Marley.
Little Al Green.
I listen to modern soca. The good ones.
The best calypso ever written was Mighty Sparrow, Good Citizen.
The major change I’ve seen within Trinidad over my 60 years?
Hmmm. The government’s be changing ever so regular but nothing ain’t really changing. Sometimes, I doesn’t even feel to vote! I vote, nothing ain’t change. I vote again. Nothing ain’t change again. I vote must be four times and nothing ever change.
So I kinda slack off.
Of course I believe in God, first and foremost!
I was the youngest hostage held at TTT during the 1990 attempted coup.
I leave home on Friday July 27, heading for the stadium to watch the football, and then something just tell me, “Look, let me to go to work.”
And within half an hour of me reaching to work, this thing happened.
I mean, I survived.
At the time, I thought I was supposed to be rough, y’n’stand? I was with all these college boys but I never went college! So I was the rough one!
But to me, it was like I was more frighten than anybody else at TTT! It was a very scary thing.
I was there, all of us in one room, with Raoul Pantin, Jones P (Madeira), Dominic (Kalipersad), for five days.
All of us got lined up to get shoot.
It doesn’t bother me so much now. Not all the time as it used to. It slowed down now. But every so often, yeah, it’s still bother me.
It was a difficult time. Any moment, you expect to die.
Yep, yep, yep, I said my prayers a few times well.
Especially Saturday evening when (Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and coup leader Yasin Abu) Mr Bakr come by the door.
He said, “Fellas, the soldiers are moving in on us! If all you lived good lives, we will see all you in Paradise.”
Them is words I will never forget. I just bow my head and waiting for whatever it is to happen.
After the Muslimeen surrendered, when we got out the front door and into the street and I realised we were safe, it was the happiest day of my life!
Not only that, I was in tears. Crying like a baby!
And then, right after that, you used to see faces that would remind you of what happened. So I did stay indoors for a good little while after that.
When I hear gunfire now, I go the other direction one time. Y’un’stand?
Right now, Trinidad is at its worst I have ever seen.
I’ll never forget the Saturday when Mr Bakr had tell us he would see us in Paradise, he said that soon, everybody would have a gun in this country. And that is what we seeing now!
I feel a part of that, too, is the nowadays music. all the violent gangster music.
Oh my goodness! They don’t dance to it! They more bend down. I can’t figure out how to dance to that!
What is a Trini? Trinis are very friendly people. I hear people say they went here, they went there, but nothing could beat back a Trini.
Out of nothing, something could start up nice-nice-nice! Back in the day we used to drink cask wine. It used to leave your mouth red-red-red. Everybody put a $2 and is niceness. A man come and he ent contribute, but he end up more drunk than all o’ we.
That is a Trini.
When it had the Independence Calypso Competition, Shadow did sing a song: Trinidad and Tobago, My King and My Queen.
You see that? That is what TT means to me: my king and my queen! I ent going nowhere! Y’un’stan’?
Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at www.BCPires.com
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