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From Priests to Parties

Having been brought up in a family with deep Catholic roots and traditions, from an early age I became used to various visiting priests and nuns saying things to me and my brothers such as: ‘Well you’ve got a lot to live up to haven’t you?’ usually said in reference back to Cardinal Vaughan and his numerous brothers and sisters, who almost all became priests or nuns - selflessly devoting their lives to the active service of God. Thus it was looked upon with a slightly jaundiced eye when my brother, Oliver, and I launched ourselves into the more hedonistic world of entertainment in the setting up of Juliana’s Discotheques.

Juliana's Discotheques Badge.jpeg

Initially, my parents were in despair and, for a while, it was easier for me not to come home. They found it awkward when, out at social occasions, they were asked what their boys were doing now. Having listened to how someone else’s son or daughter was studying law, training to be a doctor, an accountant, an officer in the army, something in the City etc. my father would hang his head as he quietly had to admit that two of his boys were Disc Jockeys with a Travelling Discotheque!

My mother was particularly vocal in her opposition to our career choice until, quiet suddenly, some years later, when Juliana’s Discotheques had achieved significant success and even become something of a household name, being regularly referred to in the social columns of the national press, she was to be heard saying with pride how encouraging she had always been of our entrepreneurial endeavour - more or less with the implication that the whole thing had been her idea!

However, perhaps in part to do with growing up in a household where religion was practised in a discerning, healthy, non-dogmatic, natural sort of way, where the importance of faith and intent was given supremacy over ritual, rigid orthodoxy or blind obedience, we were never burdened with what is sometimes referred to as Catholic guilt. So, growing up, I never felt any need to rebel against it.

This and the one thing that the happy-go-lucky Dominicans at my monastic schools did manage to teach me in the near-total absence of any academic learning, was self-belief. It was undoubtedly this combination that allowed me and my brother to remain grounded, and relatively unaffected by it when, later on, we were in the very heart of the glamorous international Night Club world, that saw me as a regular habitué of such famous - some might say notorious - establishments as ‘Studio 54’ in New York.

1960 studio 54.jpg

From this viewpoint - often associating with or meeting very successful people - without in any way being judgmental, it was sometimes impossible not to notice that many materially successful people become in danger of losing the basic plot of life, which is: You are born; you live for a while; you die. It is that simple. In doing so these people live in a state of denial that allows them to believe that their comfortable, luxuriously insulated lives will somehow go on forever.

At some point in our lives, most of us question what the purpose of life is. Perhaps the best answer is summed up by little Athena Orchard who, shortly before she died of cancer in 2014, aged just twelve, profoundly said: “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story. The purpose of life is to lead a life of purpose.

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