Biography: or how not to plan anything

Linda aged 3

Linda age three with a neighbour outside her home in Bethnal Green.

I was born in the heart of London's East End, where I still live. My mother was a dressmaker and my father worked for the Gas Board which has now morphed into British Gas. I went to Central Foundation Girls Grammar School in Spital Square which in those days was in the midst of Spitalfields fruit and veg market. What's left of the school is now a very upmarket restaurant, Galvins La Chapelle, and well worth a visit.

The fun really began when I attempted to be a grown up. My first stab at university, where I studied Agricultural Economics, was an abject failure. True, the UK was about the join the European Union, so there would be jobs aplenty; but as I still thought milk came out of bottles it wasn't the best fit to my skill set.

After a spell as an assistant accountant, where I spectacularly failed to understand the importance of the number of noughts on a spreadsheet, I fell into science.

My mother had waved an ad in the Evening Standard under my nose and soon after I secured a job in the Haematology Department of the Royal Free Hospital.

A couple of years and a couple of qualifications later, I took a year off and travelled Europe. Working in a hotel in the Tuscan mountains that served 200 men from the local munitions factory lunch in 40 minutes, I learnt Italian pretty quickly before heading home.

Back in Haematology I rose up the ranks to run the Haemophilia Centre of University College Hospital.

One day Professor Nancy Hogg came wandering in wanting someone to help her out with an experiment involving blood coagulation. I was already pretty bored with routine work so I obliged. After many a night burning the midnight oil on my own time, I was hooked on research.

Obtaining a Masters Degree I moved on to run the Rheumatology Research Department at UCL where, working with Professor JCW Edwards and Dr Jo Cambridge I was part of the team that identified which cell types line the human joint. I'm also told that my work laid the foundation for the use of an agent called Rituximab, which helps a lot of people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Underneath all of this though, I'd always wanted to write. My mother and father had both thought this was a crazy idea when I'd first talked about it as a teenager, they were probably right in retrospect; it's a pretty hard world to survive in. Ignorance is bliss however, so knowing nobody in the literary world I gave up work and sat staring at a blank screen.

The fruits of that come in other bits of this site, but meanwhile my inquisitive nature also led me to become a community and a human rights activist.

The latter involvement resulted in one of the things I am most proud of; I was Chair of Amnesty International UK for 5 years. Taking over just after September the 11th 2001 it was a fascinating, exhausting, but exhilarating time during which, amongst many other things, I co-project managed the purchase and refurbishment of their new headquarters building. Scary stuff at £13.6 million and pretty much no slack in the budget, we did it though.

On a personal level my partner Carol and I were the first to sign the GLA partnership register in 2001, a purely political act which contributed to the establishment of Civil Partnerships. In 2006 on our 21st anniversary we were finally able to be officially married. In 2010 we celebrated 25 years together.


More arts and science

Linda and Dean Hill

Linda and Dean Hill at Freedom FM.

I was the producer of the Arts and Entertainment programme for Radio Freedom FM where dancer and choreographer Matthew Bourne gave one of his earliest interviews. I have still not been forgiven for the, "Wines to have with edible underwear," section I unleashed on our unsuspecting presenter Jean T.

As an author and public speaker I have written and delivered speeches and talks both nationally and internationally.

I still work part-time in medical research. These days I work in the private sphere and am part of a clinical trials team who investigate respiratory disorders. It's a changed world from when I was in academia, sometimes you wonder if you'll ever get any work done by the time you've handled the bureaucracy. Still, if it means that subjects and patients are safeguarded, it's worth all the effort.

On a completely other note, I've finally got over the fact that my mother and grandmother had fantastic voices and I have begun to sing. My first outing was to sing for my old boss at his retirement do. Seventy very bemused rheumatologists watched as I sang a selection of classics plus a rendition of my own song from DIAMOND – If my fanny could talk.

I sometimes write in Derbyshire, where I have a cottage. It's a serene and tranquil place a thousand feet on top over a hill with stunning views. Take a look– monsalview.com.