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We had black tomcats, one of which I used to dress up like a baby and wheel around in a pram; NOW AND THEN LINDA CONLON is chief executive at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, having co-founded it 11 years ago. The 55-year-old lives at Ponteland with husband Robert and daughter Elizabeth, 25. She loves cooking and visiting her holiday home in Italy.

What's your first memory? It's a bit shocking. My grandmother had just died and I desperately wanted the doll with a golden dress that she kept in her bedroom. I remember making a real fuss to try and get it. I was about three.

What were you like as a child? Very bossy and very bookish.

What childhood games did you play? Loads. Hide and seek, hopscotch, I remember always being outside What music did you like? The Beatles. I was in love with Paul McCartney. Also Fleetwood Mac and ELO. When I was very small I liked Nellie the Elephant.

Did you have a family pet? We had a series of black tomcats, one of which I used to dress up like a baby and wheel around in a pram. It was very tame! After the cats, it was a golden Labrador. And budgies because my father used to like to teach them to speak.

Were your school days the best of your life? No. What were your favourite TV programmes? I absolutely loved Crackerjack. And The Man from Uncle.

First kiss? On the garden wall from the boy next door. It was a very chaste peck. What did you want to be when you grew up? A ballerina - but I was too tubby and they made me stand in the corner and be a tree which didn't move. What was the most important thing in the world to you? A toy koala bear that was given to me by the son of the lady next door who had emigrated to Australia. I took it everywhere for years and it's virtually threadbare now.

What did you wear then that you wouldn't wear now? Skin-tight hot pants with a heart-shaped bib and nothing underneath. I was a lot slimmer back then!

Have you changed from your teenage self? Hope so! I knew everything then and made sure everybody knew it.

Where do you go on holiday? I don't remember having many holidays. Lots of day trips. We used to go and see my aunt in the south every now and then. I was 15 before I went abroad. I love to go to Italy now - the eastern coast is beautiful.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 15-year-old self? Life is not black and white. There are many shades of grey in between. In other words, don't be so dogmatic and quick to judge people.

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LIFE FOUNDER Linda Conlon outside the Centre for Life and as as a young girl
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2011
Words:427
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