Jenny Hytner Marriot 1958-2020
We were sorry to hear that Jenny Hyter Marriot (OF 1971-73) has very sadly died and share with you this moving tribute from Natasha Maddison.
Jenny Hyter Marriot (OF 1971-1973)3)
Jenny Hytner Marriot 1958-2020
This morning whilst trying to get my mum - dementia and all - to a hospital appointment I strangely got two old text messages from my friend Jenny Hytner.
One from me and one from her both a year or more old and pre-dating more recent communications we’ve had back and forth during lockdown and so I wrote back “Wow Jen got old texts just now, weird, hope all okay, loads of love”
The reply I got was from Jenny’s partnet to say we had lost Jenny two days before to pancreatic cancer.
Well that’s my words “we lost her” but that is what it felt like and feels like and that’s what I wrote to my first circle of friends who might feel that loss as keenly as I do.
Jenny rocked up at Frensham Heights - and I mean “rocked up” if that description applies anywhere it is to her- aged 14 and was always herself, and never veered from that. She was as Sally (one of my still FH Girlfriends) remarked: “fully formed” and or as I discussed with Ama she never changed not because of being childish or childlike but that she was so very much more grown up than the rest of us in the first place. “Gutsy and authentic” said Ama, pointing out how refreshing that was in our FH world back then.
Whilst I was being existential and poetic and others arty or plain “straight” a term our generation of Frenshamians used to, well, describe anyone who wasn’t slightly naughty or rebellious (like all the new bugs Jen was put in with the straight boring horsey lot and found her way out quicker than most) she was a riot of smocks and loons (I think the only person who could actually look good in loons) and clogs and avoiding Kathy Kirby hair (I would never have known the name Kathy Kirby if it weren’t for her).
She had the voice of an angel and could sing all the James Taylor songs and most memorably Streets of London perfectly, but without some would-be Joan Baez inflection that so many girls singing with a guitar in the 1970s would sound like. She had a voice, she knew she had a voice and she used it, she could also play a damn fine guitar.
She was possibly my first real Jewish friend. From a completely different background - her Dad a QC - mine were poor Jewish immigrants from the East End, but she said out loud I’m Jewish and it gave me a kind of courage to say it too. Neither of us came from practising families - but I was always part of that enclave of fear to speak my origins and she was always bold, and helped me feel fearless too.
I stayed with her one half-term in Altrincham. What kindness I experienced from her parents and brothers. We drove back to school with Sister Scott (our nursing sister at FH who was the only person in my time there, staff or pupil to wear a full blown uniform cap and all)Sister Scott lived that way and drove badly a tiny car -probably a Fiat- with stuff which had somehow smeared all over the windscreen so we drove with the windows down in the winter; Jenny and I in fear all the way for our lives.
I imagine that drive now as Sister in her uniform with the hat on, and I am already tearing up because I realise that I can’t ask Jenny what Sister Scott was really wearing.
Jenny was one of those people who was had no side as one of our friends said to me, and one of the best people most fun people to hang out said another friend from a later period.
I remember a mad trip to Margate- she could drive so well, - and Dee and Jenny singing together doing harmony in the car whilst I, riding shotgun listened in heaven.
We were on a mad detective trip to meet the man who became her first husband, on which subject now I can’t say more. Reader, she married him, is the best I can do.
She lost two husbands to cancer and when she told me this about the second one, she said it in a way that was just so honest, never self pitying, nor even self indulgent and god knows either stance would have been justified. That was
Jen for you. A compassionate no- nonsense sort of person with whom it was impossible to feel ill at ease.
Jen, true to form, didn’t tell me that she was ill. That’s not a surprise, she was always one to want “no fuss”.
For the main part of her life she ran what the press called a luxury dog hotel. It was a place of joy, her social media accounts simply full of dogs dancing and jumping, I would turn to it in my travels for the sheer exuberance of those of photos capturing a moment which always made me smile.
She had worked for Bafta in London and Los Angeles, worked for people as mad and high up in the Entertainment as Harvey Goldsmith - who had the temerity to phone her once in the middle of Coronation Street, and that was his worst move, she would never go back to work for anyone who would interrupt her Corrie.
We shared theatre trips together, she came to gigs, we had laughs loves and a sort of sane madness, or mad sanity. She was a rock, a light, a joy.
At Frensham we did needlework together and adored Katherine Lester our teacher. Jen played a fierce game of hockey always in really good socks and tights, and the shortest of skirts showing off her Mary Quant stripy knickers. She wanted to play lacrosse but in all my 5 years of Frensham we only had one game.
She had a flare and style which was unmatched, was so damn funny I just smile thinking of her.
Latterly I could listen to her for hours, to any story she wanted to tell.
She leaves a lovely daughter Sarah, a partner, and a lovely family.
She leaves us all bereft.
My god I’m going to miss the brief but always uplifting texts and messages, pouncing on a dog item in a shop to get as a gift for her. That voice, the person calling me Chuck (with a Northern accent please), - the laugh, the unswerving Jenniness.
I’m gonna miss her and her amazing spirit to the end of my days.
Speed well dear friend til we meet again. Or as you’d say Jen: Toujours, always.