Journey to Scotland

Part VIII: The Intersection Science Fiction Convention
(The 53rd World Science Fiction Convention)
and a Bit More of Glasgow

a travelzine by Diann

(Copyright 1996. Please do not reprint without permission.)


Webpage highlights:
Convention -
Ah, if you are not familiar with science fiction fandom, some of the commentary on this page may be confusing to you.

Glasgow and Environs -

Late afternoon, August 23rd:

As our Highlands tour concluded, we were returned to Glasgow. The coach dropped us off at our respective hotels, and as we separated, we made arrangements to meet again that night. I got dropped off at the 2nd hotel, the Argyle. (Other Glasgow material can be found at st_glas.html)

This is an old hotel, with no "lift". I was located on the 3rd floor. The window faces an old building, residential. Trees, shrubs and other plantings grew in the intervening space. The bathroom is of average size, with an upright coffin for a shower. The bedroom brings new meaning to the word "small". Nonetheless, I liked this hotel; convenient to the convention centre, and I only use a hotel room to sleep and shower in, anyway.

Dinner at the hotel that first night was good -- wild trout baked in oatmeal with lemon.

After eating, I went to the Glasgow Convention Centre, and registered for the convention, a rather painless task. I then met up with a bunch of tour folks for a post-tour gathering at the Victoria Pub, which was recommended by a pubcrawler from England, and is a dark, wooden place jammed with brews and such from all over which comes highly recommended. I didn't drink, but was content to converse for a bit.

August 24th:

Breakfast was satisfying enough, and comes with the room plan. One can select various items off a menu.

Afterwards, I went over to the convention. I got there about noon, whereupon I got to see one or two panel discussions. The first was an interesting discussion on religion and religious motifs in science fiction.

Then there was the Forrest Ackerman Slide Show, with a defective slide projector. Halfway through they got it running, but Forrest kept up a good chatter nonetheless, not letting problems faze him. His focus (as always) is the history of fandom, especially the early period, which is something I'm really not much up on, but it is good to learn something. He's a good speaker who had a good time. Always good to watch a lecturer who likes what he does.

I ran into Jeff (remember Edinburgh?) at the lunch place in the convention centre. We caught up a bit on each other's trips. The lunch was mediocre and overpriced, as befits a convention centre.

Then, I found the fanzine "room" -- a section of a much larger space with paneled foldup "walls" demarking it from the rest of this auditorium/gymnasium, and hung out there, talking a bit, but mostly listening quietly. There were a wide variety of fanzines available here -- I obtained "The Frozen Frog", which is Montreal-based from Benoit Girard and is rather stimulating, "Apparatchik", Seattle-based from Andy Hooper, "Six Shooter", dated 1987, from Jeanne Gomoll, Linda Pickersgill, and Pam Wells. There were a few other fanzines which made their way home with me; if I find them again I will update this section further.

I checked out the merchanting area -- small, for a Worldcon -- in part this is due to the heavy taxes laid on people coming from America to sell things, and it makes no difference whether or not the merchants sell or fail to sell as the tax is still charged -- this discourages them from attending, at least with merchandise.

Afterwards, Vicki Rosenzweig and I went back to the Argyle, and met up with Jeff. We three went for a decent dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant, which was good but overly smoky.


August 25th:

Ate breakfast at the hotel; I picked up my photos, Jeff dropped his off. We got to the convention for the "A Thousand Abandoned Cities" slide show about the Anasazi Indians -- can't ever say that I let a trip to a discrete corner of the world close me off from checking out everything. I'd love to go there, but the hiking in most regions would be rough on my knee. Maybe. At any rate, no one knows precisely what happened to the Anasazi -- the name means "Ancient Enemy" in Navaho, so they didn't up and become Navaho. In most places, they just abandoned their homes, and went, leaving everything behind except their bones. Maybe this was the last millenium's version of The Rapture.

Jeff and I went separate directions, and I have no notes until mid-afternoon when I saw "The Shadow of the City", a panel discussion with Charles de Lint & Walter Jon Williams, talking about the role of cities in SF. I do think I ran into Ben from the tour, and collected a couple copies of his fanzine as well as some conversation.

And then, at four, a bunch of us from A Woman's APA met up at the Moat House adjoining the Centre for high tea. Our group included Vicki Rosenzweig, Judy Bemis, Ellie Miller, Peggy, and Alyson. Our waiter did manage a couple of mishaps where one woman ended up wearing the cream, after getting her sandwich late. But other than that, we had a pleasant time, and it is always enjoyable to meet folks in person (I'd never met 3 of these folks in person before). The tea was a bit overpriced, but again this is expected in facilities right next to any convention centre. Convenience hath it's foibles...

Later that night, Jeff. and I met up to go to a Hungarian restaurant within walking distance. (Unfortunately, I have no record of the restaurant's name).

August 26th:

I arose, and chose kippers for breakfast, just to try them. Good, but filling and too salty, so I didn't finish them. Jeff and I went and picked up HIS film, and then we saw the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, which consists of various artifacts in sometimes-unusual juxtaposition. Architecturally, it is a very interesting building of red brick. While it is not on a par with other museums, if one is in the area, this museum is worth one's visit.

Jeff departed, to meet up with Victoria (who is not Vicki), who was now in town after completing her pre-arranged bike tour. I went to the convention centre, where I listened to the interesting Samuel R. Delaney Guest of Honor speech. He talked about literary ghettos, among other things. What I recall at this late date was his description of writer Theodore Sturgeon's childhood with a father who was cruel in his persecution of Sturgeon's SF reading habits. There was a lot more to this speech, but this is what is recollected at the moment. Delaney also spoke briefly in memorial of the novelist John Brunner, who'd had a stroke at the convention and soon after died.

I met up with David H., from Frank's APA, and we sat and talked for a couple of hours, agreeing to meet for breakfast the next morning, since it turned out we were staying at the same hotel.

For dinner, I met up with Jeff and Victoria, and we dined at the Rogano, with a bit of whisky and plenty of good foods. We sat there and talked on until some time almost close to midnight. I returned to my hotel, and Jeff joined Victoria at hers. (The next day they were to go to the Isle of Skye.)

August 27th:

My last full day here in Scotland.

Got up, meandered (after packing the big suitcase) to the train. Sundays are bad for public traveling off beaten paths here, and one of the towns I wanted to go to requires a transfer to a bus (Galaspiel/Melrose). Decided not to go -- wouldn't have much time there anyway.

Instead, got a taxi to the Burrell Collection outside Glasgow. This drive took a bit longer than I'd expected; the taxi meter kept ticking. The collection is housed in a modern airy structure. The wealthy Mr. Burrell had done a fair bit of collecting from various periods of European history, and had reasonable tastes. Also walked briefly in the woods outside the museum -- a breezy day. Cab back to Glasgow and a simple and quick lunch, because there was so much left to do.

Walked up to St. Mungo's Museum -- a museum of religions. One Pictish stone, from Skye, near an elevator. It seemed out of place there, sitting in the type of sand one associates with corporate lobby ashtrays. Anyhow, no one knows what they were for, these stones. The museum had lots of information on all sorts of religions, indluding some exhibits geared towards interacting with school children. There is a small Zen garden on the property. By and large, this museum was well thought out. It turns out that St. Mungo is the patron of Glasgow, and that's all I recollect about him.

Was walking back, planning on seeing the Tenement House (evidently, a Victorian woman of the lower/middle classes was taken to an asylum for behaviour unbecoming -- something like excessive fraternizations with men -- and held in the asylum until her death 70 or 80 years later. (Yes, a rather crass way of dealing with someone whose behavior doesn't fit YOUR patterns.) Meanwhile, she'd still owned the tenement house, and it wasn't until after her death that anyone else entered it. Voila! Instant museum!). Was admiring the architecture of the buildings I was passing on the way. Looking up. Instead I hit the pavement with a misstep on a driveway curb, falling, and catching myself on my bad carpal tunnel hand. No one saw me, which at first felt good, since I don't like that sort of embarrassment, but then I'd really have liked someone to help me up and dust me off. That hand Hurt!

Skipped Tenement House, and went back to the SECC (convention centre) by taxi. Got ice, got the hand wrapped there at the centre. I ended up with a bit of bruising on my leg, and on the outer surface of the hand. It could move, but couldn't take any weight. I worried about luggage transport on the next day. Meanwhile, at least nothing was broken. I did a bit of aspirin.

Anyhow, since I was back at the convention, I stayed and saw Bob Shaw's "Serious Science" talk -- not really serious, but old timey Irish laid-back rambling tall tales and humor. [Since the above, Bob Shaw has passed on.] My hand felt like hell again as the ice had melted.

After, walked to eat at the Belfry. Closed on Sundays. Okay. I didn't want to keep running into this type of problem considering I was still in pain, so I considered that hotel restaurants HAVE to be open. Chose to try the Central Hotel, one of the con party hotels anyway. (I never did get to a con party!)

Ate an excellent chilled lemon/avocado soup (although it didn't taste particularly like avocado, it was delicate and good). And salmon, a small fillet.

Went via cab back to the Argyle, and took an appetizer of haggis (lacking on the other's menu), since it would be the last chance at flavored sheep gut for awhile.

Rested a bit, then returned to the convention. Ran into one new friend from the tour in the filk zone; an excellent stand-up comic was underway, talking animatedly about the harried goings-on of his previous stay at a SF convention hotel. Perfect delivery. Don't know who he is.

This was followed by a couple of singers who sing better than I (damnation with very faint praise), and then the convention fireworks were announced. We all gathered outside overlooking the River Clyde, and the fireworks began.

August 28:

Caught the plane, no trouble. The suitcase, on wheels, was hard to steer, but I used my good hand, and carried the carry bag over the opposite shoulder. Flew home. Still steerage, but at least I wasn't trying to sleep. The food was decent. Customs was easy. Nothing to declare. Waited forever for the Connecticut Limo bus. Got home. Had dinner with the parents. Spent the next week waking up at 4 am, and re-introducing the cats, who'd spent the time boarded, to each other and a newly flea-free house.

A great trip -- would have loved an extra week. Things in addition I would have done (notes for a future adventure): Inverness in depth. The Isle of Lewis (home to the Lewis chessmen, and to the Callendish stones). The Borderlands. The
Tenement House. Certainly would fill at least another another week.


Diann's Scotland Page | London | Glasgow | Edinburgh | Ayr | Arbroath | Highlands-1 | Highlands-2 | Cuisine

Last Updated: Sunday, March 17, 1996