I want to say a few words about Phillip.
There were lots of Phils. Phil the journalist, Phil the raconteur, crusader Phil, Phil the friend, Phil the wild man, uncle Phil. There was Irish Phil, Leeds Phil and Scouser Phil. Phil the radical, and even, believe it or not, Phillip the angelic looking altar boy. There isn't time to talk about them all. We all have stories and memories of different aspects of Phillip Digger Dee. Here are a few of mine.
Phil the Scouser - also known as Digger
Born in Bootle, he had many of the best qualities of the genuine Liverpudlian. He supported Liverpool FC. He had the native Liverpudlian wit and the typical Scouse hatred of petty authority. He had nerve, he had courage, he had cheek - and he had them in spades. If there was an underdog around Phil would adopt it, defend it and teach it new tricks.
And he loved a joke - there was the time he turned up (to one of Marianne's parties) in a shell suit complete with frizzy wig and joke moustache and kept everyone in stitches for hours playing the Scouse git. Or the time he sang `The Red Flag' in a helium-inspired falsetto. Or the time he used trick photography to send mum a birthday card `with love from the twin Phils'.
Then there was Phil the photographer and journalist
Phil wasn't just a good photographer, he had a real talent. He would never settle for the obvious shot. He had the gift of seeing things most of us miss and his best photographs have that quality of making you see the world a little differently. But for Phil photography wasn't just about art and pretty pictures. It was about changing the world. A political tool. Because Phil was also a crusader. So much so that it once led to him being badly beaten by National Front thugs. He hated injustice - with a fierce and burning intensity. That was when you were most likely to encounter angry Phil.
And there was Irish Phil
Phil loved Ireland. Was proud of his Irish roots. Studied Irish history. Loved to talk and argue about it. But only a fool would take Phil on and argue for the Unionist or Orange side.
Then there was Phil the film star. As I am sure you are all aware, Phil famously appeared in the film ``Michael Collins''. I'm not claiming that he acted Liam Neeson off the set - not quite. He was after all just an extra. But if you freeze the film about 45 minutes in, there's our Phil hanging off a lamppost rooting fiercely for an independent Ireland. Art sometimes has a way of imitating life.
And, yes, there was Phil the unfulfilled
For someone with so many outstanding qualities - intelligent, witty, articulate, charming, passionate and, according to several reliable witnesses, positively oozing sex appeal - it is tragic that he is gone so soon. But Phil liked to - indeed chose to - walk on the wild side. He burnt the candle at both ends and, for good measure, spit roasted it in the middle. He loved wine, women and song - and Guinness and vodka and cider and whiskey (Irish, naturally). He fought it and sometimes he seemed to have it beaten, but in the end he couldn't quite make it.
Finally, there's our Phil, our kid, our brother, our son, our uncle.
No matter how exasperated you got with Phil - and there were times when most of us could cheerfully have strangled the bugger - you couldn't stay mad at him. Especially not when you were with him. He was good company. He was fun. He could light up the room. Dull he was not.
Just last May, at my daughter Katy's wedding he was on top form - charmed the groom's family, danced a slow waltz with the groom's mother, and utterly captivated all of Katy's friends. And when we saw the official wedding photos, amidst all the posed shots of cake cutting and formal groupings, there was one photograph that made us all laugh out loud. There was Phil, draped around a classical nude statue in the grounds of the hotel, one hand on her cold left breast, the other raising a glass of red wine in toast to his niece the bride.
Phil would have appreciated the irony of the letter that arrived from the Social Security on the day he died informing him that from 27th June he would no longer be entitled to receive benefit. I can see him now, perched on a cloud sticking two fingers up at the DHSS.
Now he is gone. Just 46 years old. At rest. We love him and we miss him ... like mad.
May he rest in peace.