"Everyone told me I was mad to have a ninth child, but if I hadn't had Edward I'd have had no children left now."
It sometimes seems as though Mrs Rose Kennedy had been specially selected for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune: and it was with something approaching awe that one watched her being interviewed by Robert MacNeil last week on BBC-L's The Best of Times . . the Worst of Times, a Panorama special,
Few people anywhere, ever. can have known so much of the best, so much of the worst.
Mrs. Kennedy is 83 and looks 20 years younger — a tribute to American grooming and Parisian chic. She seemed to enjoy telling MacNeil about the childhood of her famous sons', how they were brought up in an atmosphere of Victorian strictness, taught to aim at excellence, spanked with a coathanger when naughty. (She also enjoyed recounting that her grandchildren, aware of her reputation and taking no chances, hid all the coathangers when she came to visit.) "My life," she said smiling, "even with its moments of pain, has been such a happy one." She wanted to he the mother of a great man, and she was the mother of two: it might have been three if Joe had lived: and could yet be four. But at what a cost. When news of John's death reached her, she went on to the lonely sea-shore at Cape Cod, "and walked and walked and walked, and prayed and prayed and prayed."
I hen came Robert's death. Was the greatness worth it? "Eleven children fatherless. Oh no, no, nu." Prayer has been her mainstay, and presumably accounts for her extraordinary resilience. Buffeted again and again she takes refuge in her Faith and in her devotion to "the Blessed Mother." And she emerges triumphant with her courage and even her gaiety intact.
"Like her. I'm not going to be vanquished . . . I'm going to carry on," she said. But she is clearly and understandably afraid of her one remaining child running for President.
Programmes for Good Friday
In The Crisis of the Cross (1.00-1,30 pm all ITV). Fr Simon Tugwell, OP, leads a meditation with a group of Christians From various walks of life. This kind of meditation is a new development in religious television.
The spoken word takes up less than half the programme and all the techniques available to television production are used for the visual interpretation. It is hoped that the atmosphere of calm and quiet will encourage viewers at home to relate the Last Words from the Cross to their own lives.
The Last Hour (2 pm, BBC-1). The producer, Stewart Cross, says: "If you stand in the centre of the transept of St Matthew's Church, Northampton, two powerful symbols face you. At
one end is Henry Moore's sculpture of the Madonna and Child. Opposite is Graham Sutherland's painting of The Crucifixion.
"That helpless child, now a grown man, hangs wracked on a cross. On Good Friday, led by Canon John Tinsley of Leeds University, we shall stand between these two great pieces of 20th century art and reflect upon life and death, the timeless content of the Passion of Christ."
Who Is This Man? (6-6.30 pm all ITV). Through his songs. musician and composer Alan Price presents his own examination of the relevance of the attitudes of spectators at the Crucifixion — the soldier the prostitute, the mother, the politician — and relates these attitudes to the problems and moral standards of today.
Erasmus of Rotterdam 10.10 pm, BBC-2). A film reflecting the life and time of Erasmus, "the star of his age," who today is remembered for his spirit of moderation, pacifism and,unshakeable belief in the voice of reason.
On Thames TV only, latenight viewers will be able to hear Judi Dench (Friday), Lord Soper (Saturday) and Cardinal Heenan (Sunday) describing how they personally see Jesus Christ.
Programmes for Easter Sunday
Philip Latham (alias Plantagenet Palliser) reads from Meditation for a Young Boy Confirmed by Alan Paton in Beverley Minster, York. (11.25 am. BBC-1).
Urbi et Orbi (11.55 am, BBC1) Pope Paul's Easter message conies direct from St Peter's in Rome.
Selected to Live (6.15 pin. BBC-I) is the story of Johanna Ruth Dobsehiner, told by herself. Born in Berlin in 1925, the third child of Dutch-Jewish parents, she moved with her family to Amsterdam in 1935 to avoid Hitler's persecution.
By 1943, when she was 18, Johanna-Ruth had lost her two brothers and her parents, and, like Anne Frank, began a secret life hidden in attics and basements. During this time she read the New Testament, and on Easter Day, 1944 she had an experience of the Risen Christ which fundamentally altered her life.
El Greco (7 pm, BBC-2). A second showing of the programme
about the 16th century painter. Finally, whatever you do, don't miss Catholics (10.30 pm, all ITV), HTV's 90-minute film drama based on the awardwinning novel by Brian Moore. It's a, powerful, challenging, dis turbing 111m, with a magnificent performance by Trevor lIoward as the abbot in charge of a remote Irish monastery some time in the future.
Other leading roles are played by Cyril Cusack, Andrew Keir, and Martin Sheen. Don't be
put off by the Hollywood-ish scenes in the Vatican which oc
cur early in the film. They're the only ones which strike a jarring note, If it's possible. try and see it in colour, the Bantry Bay scenery is superb. More about the film next week,