It's now a year since we lost dear Jenni and I still sometimes can't believe she's gone, half expecting a Rossfax to roll out of the fax machine or a kneemail to pop up on screen. I'm not a great believer in this type of anniversary, so I shall think of it as an annual celebration of her life and remember all the 'wonderful' things she taught me, such as how to laugh at life itself and, above all, how to shop properly and spend Dave's money.
I shall also remember the super times we had together keeping shop on board the Ocean Defender and Ross Revenge and how many people were amazed on meeting us that we had only been friends for a short time; most seemed to gain the impression we'd known each other all our lives and that's how we felt about it, too.
We shared a lot in common and also complemented each other in the way we both looked at life: she would cheer me up if I got too serious; I would bring her back down to earth when she got carried away with fantastic but totally impractical ideas.
Well, although Jenni has been taken from us at a cruelly young age, no-one can take the memories and experiences away and she'll live on in all our hearts and minds forever, I'm sure. She certainly made a difference with her contribution to today's offshore radio scene and maybe radio waves do travel further than we think. Bet she'll be tuning in to Big L 2001, hey? She'll be in good company with Kenny Everett, Tony Windsor, Paul Kaye, Chuck Blair, et al.
Just a suggestion, Mary: how about making her a posthumous member of the Knees Club? She'd think that was wonderful and something of a first to be signed up posthumousknee."
I think this is an excellent idea of Pauline's. All the Radio London DJs mentioned above were also members, and as the photos on this page illustrate, Jenni owned a superb pair of patellae. We really can't leave her out, can we?
(Note: Jenni was subsequently awarded Knees Club membership number 382 and her brother John signed the KC book on her behalf. John requested that Bud Ballou include a special dedication during his 2001 show, during the Big L RSL, as he was certain that Jenni would be listening somewhere.)
(Right: Chris's 50th birthday
party, December 1998. Pauline, standing, l to r, Alan Hardy, Mary, Chris and
As far as Jenni was concerned, life was all about laughter. If something funny happened, she went out of her way to share the joke with everyone else and we all enjoyed reciprocating. Sometimes hilarious items would turn up from her, via the snail, but most often it was by knee-mail. Usually, it was a case of Jenni, Pauline and myself setting each other off on jokes about the most ridiculous subjects, with three-way messages flying about for days on end. Of course, we were all-three fluent in 'patellaese' the language of knees and this enhanced all of our communkneecations. Sometimes poor Pauline would find herself too snowed under with work to join in, but kept herself going by reading my exchanges with Jenni. Luckily, we still have those hilarious messages to look back on with great pleasure.
The last knee-mail I received from Jenni was on June 13th last year. It said simply "Brilliant! Just brilliant!" The 'brilliant' item in question was a slightly naughty picture which I'd sent to Jenni at work. She'd decided it was a bit too rude for public consumption and asked me if I would forward it to her at home.
So many times since then, I've discovered items that have immediately made me think, "Jenni would have really loved that."
Thanks, Jenni, for so much shared laughter. "Brilliant! Just brilliant!"
Tenth Anniversary Update, July 2010
It's very hard to believe that ten years have passed since we lost our lovely friend, Jenni Baynton. Those who loved her are certain that she would have been very honoured to have known that her name is on a plaque aboard the Ross Revenge, not to mention thrilled to bits that the Radio Waddenzee lightship was named after her. Both are very fitting tributes to a lady who was such a huge fan of offshore radio. Jenni's family told us how much pleasure she had gained from her friendships with fellow watery wireless and Sixties music enthusiasts during what very sadly proved to be her final years.
Here's what Jenni wrote to me in March 1999, after the death of Dusty Springfield.
"It's awful to think that yet another of the greats has gone forever. It just goes to show that life is fragile and transient and one should live for NOW and grasp opportunities as they come along, instead of worrying about trivia and thinking that 'tomorrow will do'.
This is why I'm so pleased that we are all going to Brighton this year and will be able to relive some of the great memories of the Sixties before the turn of the Century!"
Such poignant words in the light of subsequent events.
Jenni lived to see very little of the 21st Century, but I can happily report that she enjoyed a wonderful time with us at the Brighton Sixties Festival in August 1999. She did indeed live for the moment and Chris and I were fortunate to have been counted as her friends.