My name is Philip Friel, full name Philip Noel Friel, although I prefer to be called Phil. I was born on 7th December, 1960, in the city of Derry, in Northern Ireland, where I’ve lived my entire life.
I’m the eldest of five children, and I have three other brothers (Gary, Paul and Sean) and one sister (Sandra). Both my parents are dead, my mother (Mary) in July 1975, and my father (also Phil) in December 1991. All of my grandparents are dead, my paternal grandparents within a three week period at the end of 1972 and start of 1973, and my maternal grandparents a couple of years apart in the early-1990’s.
I’m not married (and remain a long-term single bloke), but had a long-term relationship with my ex-girlfriend, Mary from about 1987-1993. Our son Philip was born on 12th July, 1991, and became the focal point around which my entire life revolved, right up until his tragic and untimely death, struck down by cancer at the age of only 14, on 19th April, 2006, after many months battling the illness. This awful tragedy has had, by far, the greatest impact upon me of any event in my entire life, and I’m still trying (mostly without success) to cope with and accept this terrible loss, many years after his death.
I spent the earliest years of my life, from December 1960 – June 1966, living in and around the Bogside area, firstly at Wells Street (beside the Long Tower Chapel), then at Rossville Street, and then at Ann Street, which is the original site upon which now exists Glenfada Park and Columcille Court, both of which featured so prominently in the infamous “Bloody Sunday” tragedy on January 30th, 1972.
The surge of urban renewal and development in the Bogside area during the mid-1960’s which led to these changes, saw my family relocated in 1966 to Shantallow, a newly developed council estate a few miles outside the city centre, where I spent the next twenty years of my life. In 1986 we moved again, this time to the Glen Estate, just off the Northland Road, where I still live with my brother Gary, who has been severely disabled since birth, both mentally and physically. I’m not only his “big brother” but also his principal Carer.
My first school was St. Eugene’s Primary School, Francis Street, where I spent only a few months during 1964-65, before our relocation to Shantallow, after which I began attending St. Patrick’s Boy’s School, Pennyburn. In September 1972, I started attending St. Columb’s College, Bishop’s Street, and two years later I moved to the newer school on the Buncrana Road. I left St. Columb’s College in June 1979, after attaining a total of sixteen “O-Levels” and three “A-Levels”.
In September 1979, I started attending the New University of Ulster, Coleraine, where I spent the next four years until I graduated in the summer of 1983 with a B.A. Honours Degree in History and a Diploma in Education. But despite leaving university as a qualified teacher, I quickly gave up my teaching job to care for my father (who had begun suffering from prolonged ill-health) and my disabled brother.
My main interests, all lifelong obsessions starting when I was very young, include music (very handy for my hobby as a DJ, as I already had a huge music collection before I started), reading lots of comics and great SF books, and watching sci-fi films (mostly on DVD – I rarely go to the cinema these days) and lots of good telefantasy series on the television.
Since the mid-1980’s, I’ve also been an obsessive computer user, and since Christmas Day 1995, I’ve been an even more obsessive internet user. My big interests on the computer are the internet, web design, blogging, animation, graphics, DTP and computer music.
I guess I’ve always been eccentric (very eccentric), what you might refer to as a geek. And proud of it! 🙂