In 1995, while I was working a contract position in Appleton, I attended the World Science Fiction Convention, that year, in Glasgow, Scotland. It was my second out-of-continent WorldCon, the previous one being Conspiracy in Brighton, England, in 1987. As it was my custom, I vacationed for several days around the convention.
After a day’s layover in London on Saturday, where I mostly scouted out the territory (like finding and exploring Forbidden Planet but not buying anything, as I would be back in London on the last leg of my vacation) I flew over to Ireland from Stansted Airport near London. This is a very recent airport, 20 or more miles away from London itself; very clean and open, but busy.
When I was in London that Saturday, I turned on the TV and caught the tail end of a Columbo episode, with (Babylon 5 actress) Claudia Christian! She played Lauren Hutton’s daughter; both were guilty of the murder but Hutton took the rap to protect Christian. I thought it was a sign that I would be seeing more of Christian (i.e., more B5) at WorldCon, and I was not mistaken.
Ireland was more brown than green this year. I was warned that Ireland was having summer this year, with unseasonably warm weather and little rain. As such, it was much less green than I had remembered it being when I was over in 1987. They hadn’t gone as far as rationing water, but the authorities were considering it.
I stayed near Dublin at an old manor house just between Dublin and Malahide, a town to the north, that had been converted to a B&B. The setting was marvelous and comparatively inexpensive, with a complete bathroom and a huge double bed. The people who ran the place where very nice; even the several dogs (two Alsatians, one German Shepard with broken front legs, and one Dauchsund) were friendly once they recognized you. This was my base of operations during my four days there.
Primarily I went bookstore hunting, but with little success. I was looking for a number of eclectic items but didn’t find much of anything, here or in London. There were very few second-hand bookstores of interest in the city, and just a couple of large primary bookstores. Still I managed to find a couple of things of interest.
I had arranged to meet Anne McCaffrey to get her photograph for the Chicago in 2000 collectable trading card set. The drive down was nice except I mistook some of the directions and had to stop for directions three times. I hope I would do better in the future. Anne was very nice and gracious while busy getting ready to travel to Glasgow the following day. I took several pictures: I’m not terribly impressed with them, as there was significant glare from the window I had expected but not to this degree; some of the others I took outside might work better.
I then traveled back to Katherine Kurtz’ manor. This is a 19th century manor with quite a history: she should write it up some time. Her husband Scott has been involved with movies and Hollywood for over 30 years, and through his connections they filmed the Irish scenes of the mini-series “Scarlet” at their manor some years ago. Now a production company Scott is connected with is preparing to film an adaptation of “Kidnapped” there, building a tower outside the house and a set inside. Dust was everywhere.
I got the chance to sit and talk with Scott and Katherine for quite a while: they are ‑very- nice people. Katherine’s next book, Two Crowns for America, the secret occult history of America (with sidelights to the Jacobeans in Scotland) is slated for a February — March release (President’s Day was suggested by Scott) next year, and is being positioned as a breakout book for her. I wish her well with it.