Getting the best out of your WorldCon trip

So, you’re travelling to WorldCon this year, you’ve never before visited Glasgow or Scotland. You don’t know what to expect or how to behave. Here are some tips you might find useful, a follow up to my Glasgow post with more nitty-gritty details.

(I don’t make any guarantee that everything is 100% accurate in all situations, this is meant to be more for you to get the vibe than a bunch of hard and fast rules.)

How to say things

Glasgow is pronounced much softer than many people think it is. Emphasis on the first syllable but not a huge amount more. More “GLAHZ-go” than like “Glass-GOW” but not quite as far as “GLAAWWZ-go”. It’s not drawn out. The demonym is Glaswegian (like Norwegian). Or “Weegie” for short, but only informally. Some of the stronger local accents might even say something like “Glesge” but it’s not something you need to try to do. You might see the occasional street sign with Scots Gaelic but it’s not commonly spoken in this part of Scotland. In Glasgow most people speak English with Scots words occasionally thrown in. It’s not slang, Scots is an actual language. And of course, you’ll hear languages from other places. It’s a multicultural city.

Try not to worry too much, and don’t take videos on YouTube as any kind of indication of how things are really said. Anyone with basic standard English would get on all right.

Other useful place pronunciations: Sauchiehall Street, one of the former main shopping streets and now less so, is pronounced similar to “Sucky-hall”. Buchanan Street, a prevalent central Glasgow shopping streets is pronounced sort of like “B-yew-cannon”. The SECC is sometimes called the SEC. The concert hall on the conference centre campus is called the “Armadillo” affectionately due to its shape. Edinburgh, on the other side of Scotland, but popular as a tourist destination, is pronounced like “ED-in-bruh” not “EE-din-borro” or “EE-din-berg”. Often, it sounds like “Embra” when said quickly. When someone’s talking about Glasgow City Centre, they might call that “the toon”. But most often they will almost always explain to you if you are confused. Most folk are friendly!


Money and payment methods

We use GBP (British pounds and pence) as with the rest of the UK. Unlike some of the other constituent countries, however, we can produce our own designs of bank notes. So, you might see an otter on a Scottish £10 and no Queen or King’s head on it. But it’s real money, and you will see Bank of England notes as well. They are interchangable up here in Scotland, might get a funny look if you give Scottish notes to someone in England, but they’re meant to accept it. “I think you’ll find, pal, it’s legal tender!” is a joke phrase often spouted in a strong Glaswegian accent. But almost everywhere takes credit or debit cards of the major providers, and will even accept payments on phones using Near Field Technology, such as Google or Apple pay in most cases. In fact, cash is mostly only really required for things like taxis, as they tend to not want to pay the credit card charges.

GBP is 100 pence to a pound. Nothing more complicated than that. We decimalised a long time back and haven’t looked back. (Sorry, no guineas, sovereigns, farthings, or shillings. No ha’pennies either, only whole pence.) If you do get change from a bank note, it will come in coins of the following denominations, £2, £1, 50 pence (or p), 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p. No 25p coins! Sometimes people will try to pass you Euro cents because they look kind of similar, but it’s not a big issue and sometimes a genuine mistake. Notes that are in common use are £5, £10, and £20. You’ll sometimes see £50 but never £100. They exist but if you receive any e.g. at a currency exchange, you should get them exchanged for lower denominations at banks, nowhere else will accept them. Banks that issue notes here are Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Clydesdale Bank. Other than that, Bank of England. But again, mostly cards work so this isn’t much of an issue.

Temperature and weather

We use degrees Celsius everywhere in the UK. So don’t be surprised if the aircon in your hotel room only goes up to 30! The weather in Scotland has always been cool, and as a country on the same latitude as Moscow, it would be a lot colder if it weren’t for the Atlantic Gulf Stream currents bringing up warm air from Central America. But in August you’re likely to get warm weather – well, warm for us. But you still might find it colder and damper than your home climate. Scotland’s previous record temperature was around 31C, or approximately 89 F. To us, this is brain-meltingly hot and rare. So, if you’re used to hotter temperatures, bear this in mind and bring something warm to wear for the nights or rainy times. And it rains, a lot. Said Gulf Stream does send over a lot of Atlantic storms, dreary days long rain, or slight showers. You might be lucky enough to miss it, but do bring something to deal with it. A light waterproof jacket would be good. You can buy a cheap umbrella over here for about £10-£20 in a lot of places.

If it’s hot you might notice some young men walking around without their shirts on. This is normal. As is people with unfortunate sunburn!

Don’t ask us what the temperature is in Fahrenheit – most of us won’t have a clue, except some of the older Scots who grew up with it before the changeover.


Beers on tap are sold in pints (roughly 1/2 litre) or half-pints. Bottles may vary from this. More below in the “Alcohol” section. Standard cans of soft drink are 330 millilitres (approx 11 fluid ounces). Your luggage will be weighed by the airline in kilograms but people put their own weight as stones, lol. Yes, I know, pick a system!

Distances in road travel is in miles and yards. More on driving below!

Travelling here and around


You will probably come into GLA, the international airport for Glasgow. It is not located in Glasgow city itself, but a nearby town called Paisley. But it services the Glasgow area.

Unfortunately there’s not a train right from the airport to the city. You can get a train from Paisley Gilmore Street into Glasgow Central, but it is probably not a great option compared to other methods. It’s just a bit too far to walk, especially with luggage and trying to navigate the airport campus. But other options exist!

There is a taxi rank right outside arrivals, and this might be the easiest option if you’re worried about getting to your hotel with all your luggage. These are all official licensed cabs, and you will be able to tell that by the fact that they have offical licenses on their rear bumper and an ID badge for the driver. The cabs are big, “people mover” or minivan size, and can fit loads of bags and people. Also, the rank is often stewarded to protect passengers and help keep things moving. You can ask a steward about what sort of costs to expect before getting in if you like. It’d probably be around £30 in most cases? There’s a strict queuing system, but if you leave to do something, don’t expect to get your spot back. And remember to take your luggage with you at all times. The wait is usually not that long. Some people might be willing to share, and if you are confident in your safety, you might decide to split the fare. But always practice caution.

Top tip: You should agree a price or at least get a ballpark figure for a longer trip with a taxi driver before you go. Always pay the driver inside the vehicle before you get out rather than through a window. Some cabs have automatic locks to prevent you leaving without paying in any case.

There are so called “mini cabs” which you have to phone or use an app to summon. These are differently licensed but will be expected to be safe and get you where you’re going. See the “Glasgow Taxis” app, or look up in Google for reviews and reputation. We also have Uber!

Other options include buses into the city centre, which are cheaper for a single traveller, perhaps £9 one way from what I’ve seen, but less comfy. For a couple or family, taxis might just work out better. The number 500 bus is express, and will go to the Buchanan Street bus station in the city centre. If you tell the driver which hotel, they might let you off at a street a bit closer.

There are also hire cars available at the airport if you want to drive yourself. More about driving below.

More info on Glasgow Airport here.

Road rules

In Scotland, people drive in the left-hand lane. It always helps to remember which way to look before stepping into traffic. If you’re hiring a car, you’d obviously need to know that, too. On motorways or dual-carriageways, the left hand lane is the slow lane and where the exits are most of the time. (Glasgow has a few exits on the right, but it’s exceedingly rare generally.)

There are no strict jaywalking laws, more like “interfering with traffic” type laws. You may cross a street anywhere, with caution, if it is clear and you aren’t making things unsafe. You will not, however, have right of way unless at a lights-controlled crossing (green man means go here too), or you have set foot on a zebra crossing (think Abbey Road album cover) and in some other specific situations. Some drivers, out of politeness, will wave you across if it’s not busy and they see you waiting. Unfortunately, some drivers in Scotland also race the red lights, which is stupid and dangerous. But it happens. Watch out for chancers or those not paying attention. It’s always worth being alert, because even the best, most responsible drivers make mistakes sometimes.

Do not treat major roads as walkable. You may not walk on a motorway (M8 is the motorway that goes through Glasgow), or take a bicycle up one. You should probably avoid other “A” roads too unless in a car. You’ll know when you see it because there will be absolutely no other foot traffic anywhere near it unless something’s gone very wrong. Walking at the side of a small country road is acceptable, but stay to the right so you can see oncoming traffic and try to stop and stand on the verge if anything is coming.

When driving out that way, some of the smallest roads are single lane, and there are “passing places” where a vehicle can wait for the oncoming traffic to clear. The etiquette there is usually that a person who is nearest the waiting place goes into it and waits for the other to pass. Priority is often given to people coming downhill, for obvious reasons. But this is only in the most rural of areas.

Glasgow has a “low emissions zone” – which means your car needs to be a certain standard for emissions or it may be fined for entering. This is checked by numberplate cameras. Most modern cars will not get a fine for entering the zone, but worth checking yours, especially if you’re driving up from a different part of the UK. Hire cars should all be new enough to not worry about this. All the info you need should be here.

Parking in Glasgow city centre streets is extortionate and often tricksy. If you’re parking at the hotel, check how much they will charge per day. If you decide to try to park on the street, fair warning – it’s difficult. Sometimes the parking signs are quite obscure and hard to spot, the road markings worn away by the weather. The price for parking can be extortionate. If in doubt, use a multistorey carpark (a parking garage) to know exactly what you’re getting. But most places in Glasgow are okay to park for free after 6pm in permitted areas. Never park on a double yellow line or loading zone or you will get a ticket, and possibly a “boot” or wheel lock, or even towed. Not fun. Not cheap, either. Look out for residents-only zones, parking vouchers, etc etc. There isn’t a “parking validation” system per se. More often there will be a machine where you get a proof of payment with hours you have to leave and you display it on your dashboard or stick it to the inside of your window.

Almost everyone in Scotland will drive a manual, or “stick shift” car. We’re just used to it. Therefore, some hire car places will charge more for automatic since it’s not the default choice here. Sorry about that. It is worth driving around Scotland because it’s such a beautiful place, but make sure you understand things like roundabouts and so on, and who has right of way where. And watch out for the speed cameras. Some are “average” speed and some are quite stealthy. There are occasional tour operators who will provide a car with driver, but this is costly. Perhaps the best thing is to get a train to the location you want to explore. Some places have tour buses that will take you to interesting sites. Of course, there are always guided tours on coaches (i.e. long distance buses) that will be informative and less of a stressor than driving, but with less choice on who you share it with. Always check on a review site such as Tripadvisor to see if it sounds suitable.

Watch out: drinking and driving is not permitted. Even one drink could potentially put you over the very low breath alcohol limit and all road police will carry a test kit, so just don’t chance it. If you know you’re driving, just stick to the soft drinks, or try an alcohol free beer.

Oh, and hey, try walking about and using public transport. It is much easier and cheaper than trying to learn a new country’s driving rules, and Scottish cities are mostly tiny anyway. Comfy footwear all the way!

Other travel

Trains are good here. Though they could be better connected, they’ll generally get you to major settlements. The beautiful Central Station in Glasgow is our busiest station, and Queen Street, about 10 minutes away, also has a lot of longer train journeys originating from it and has recently been renovated. Both can take you to other parts of Scotland or to and from the rest of the UK, depending on where you’re headed.

Top Tip: get the Scotrail app and buy your tickets on your phone. The app is very handy for showing live times and helping show different ticket types.

You can also use a ticket machine in station (usually card only) or go to the ticket sales window for a human’s help. In some cases you can even get a ticket from the guard on the train if there’s no sign of a working machine or barrier, just hop on and tell them where you came from and are going to. They usually accept cash. If you want to come back the same way on the same day, you just get a regular “return” ticket. Or you could get an “open return” ticket if you’re going to return on a different day. The staff will help you figure out the cheapest option. It’s not always the one you might guess. There aren’t any “day pass” type tickets on overground trains.

For longer trips, such as from Glasgow to London, you will get a choice of classes in your tickets. First class is very expensive and has more space, and possibly even better food and service. These “intercity” trains can have different operators than Scotrail. “The Trainline” is another handy website / or app. And “National Rail Enquiries” website / app should show you all train timetables in all of the UK.

The Glasgow Subway, affectionately nicknamed the Clockwork Orange, goes in a circle and can be handy for travelling from the city centre to the west end of Glasgow. But stations are limited and it doesn’t run all night. This will be a day pass ticket situation usually, and it allows you to hop on and off at any station for the day, which is handy for wandering about Glasgow as a visitor.

To get from Glasgow Central rail station to the SECC for the convention, you can take the low-level train (platforms down some stairs, there should also be a lift aka elevator). The train runs partially underground but then comes above ground near the conference centre campus. You’ll get off at the handily named “Exhibition Centre” station and walk through a little footbridge tunnel right by it to the convention. This could be good for people who are staying in the city centre and travelling to the con every day. It is a walkable distance, but would take you up to half an hour. If you’re not able to do that, or you’re just tired the train is a good option. Check last train times before you stay in the bar too long enjoying the chat!

You can also get a bus, and in this case you will often need a daypass ticket. But this can be used for as many trips within the permitted zone as many times as you like for the day. Buses stop running if it’s late at night, check timetables before you go and make arrangements for alernatives such as taxis or walking if you miss it. Fortunately, as mentioned, the SECC is not too far from the middle of the city.

The coach service from Buchanan Street bus station will take you to Edinburgh return for cheaper than the train. It takes a little longer but it might be worth it.

You can look things up on the Traveline Scotland site for all public transport options including ferries, and a handy journey planner.

Etiquette in shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels

We pay our staff well enough that they don’t depend on tips. So, as a result, customer is not really “king” in Scotland (see more on tipping further down). You may not get the response you expect if you act belligerently or make a lot of complaints. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect respect. But the staff serving you will expect it in return. Stay calm, polite, friendly, and keep your perspective. A spot of mould on a shower seal is not free upgrade territory. If your food isn’t right, you can expect a free replacement but not your whole table’s meals paid for. Just remember, it will more likely be managers and owners who are at fault for most problems. Not the person on the minimum wage job who will most often just be trying their hardest. You should expect to get what you paid for, in a manner that’s fairly timely where reasonable. In crowded situations, this can be difficult, so please try to be patient. There’s no call for rudeness in most situations, or loud, heated tones.

Flashing a platinum card or boasting that you’re very important might also not get you very far. We are a fairly egalitarian country, and as I say, staff aren’t forced to put up with bad treatment for the sake of a tip. At least, they shouldn’t be. You’ll maybe get on their bad side for expecting any servile behaviour from your waiter, receptionist, bar staffer, room cleaner etc.

Shop assistants act a little differently, perhaps, to some countries. Don’t expect a “greeter” or people to follow you around making suggestions without being asked. A shopkeeper who’s in proximity might say hello, but leave you to get on with things. This is because most Scots / UK folk like a quiet browse and not to be disturbed that much, not because staff are unfriendly! If you do need assistance, though, just walk up to one and ask and they will help. They understand that people from overseas don’t always know how everything works and should be polite about it. (Okay, some of them are a bit grumpy, but they might have had a long day.)

You’ll have a payment terminal to tap a card or phone to, and most places will accept cash, though the number of places that don’t is rising these days.

It’s always worth checking before you leave if your bank’s card will work overseas, and if they will unlock it for international use, to save any hassle ahead of time.

Remember at the convention that volunteers are giving up their time to help you, so please be kind to them. They are doing it for the love of the community and dealing with a lot of people from a lot of places.

Tipping, etc

You can tip if you liked your experience in a table service restaurant. You can tip 10% or a bit more if you want. It’s more just to express your appreciation. You won’t be chased into the street if you don’t. (Sometimes a discreet “service charge” is added to a bill. If you see that, you don’t need to add any further gratuity, it covers that. You can also refuse to pay it if you were really unsatisfied with your service, and they did not rectify it when you mentioned it.) In some places you will be expected to go to a till but the majority these days have handheld card machines that will come to your table. If in doubt, ask!

In other places, look out for tip jars. Oh, and in Scotland, unlike some other parts of the UK, it’s customary to tip a token amount to food delivery people and taxi drivers, like a few pound coins or rounded up to the nearest fiver – a token of appreciation rather than a hard and fast expectation. “Keep the change” is usually fine.

It’s not really customary to tip a hotel room cleaner, receptionist, etc. They will do their job and if you had a good experience, you can let them know. That’s probably enough. If you feel like it, you can leave a few coins in your room on checkout. But honestly, they’ll probably just assume you left it by mistake. We don’t really do “bell hop” type positions, so there’s not necessarily a person who’ll bring your bags and then stand with hand out for a gratuity. It just isn’t really a thing.

Most pubs where you’re just drinking at a stand up bar don’t really expect any gratuity, though there might be a tip jar again. In a traditional pub you will go to the bar to be served, and also in some other food places. If it’s table service only, they will let you know but that’s not the norm for most drinking establishments. If there’s a sign “wait to be seated” then it probably is. But if not, just grab an available spot. Don’t ever move anyone else’s possessions, even if they’re not around. Clearing some nearly empty glasses off a table that appears deserted is usually okay. It should be obvious, either way, if someone might be returning. Which leads onto:

Don’t leave drinks unattended. It’s just basic safety. There are rare reports of people attempting to drop “roofies” like GHB into girl’s drinks in certain seedy bars so it’s just not worth risking it. It’s not common, but why take the chance? Ask a trusted friend to watch it.

Sidebar: don’t leave your luggage unattended anywhere except your room or a place designed for that purpose. A) it might get stolen, but B) Britain still has bomb scares and you might find it seized and blown up by the police, especially in public transport hubs where they tend to take security seriously. But you knew that from your own country, right?

You can sometimes get hot food or sandwiches in pubs – not all of them offer this. But they’ll all have some snacks for sale like potato crisps (chips) etc. Usual hours for hot food service are 12pm-2pm for lunch and 5pm-9 or 10 pm for dinner. Weekends can vary.

Some places close for Mondays because they’ve worked all weekend. Hairdressers, takeaway restaurants, cafes, etc. Most pubs don’t do that, though. They might have different opening hours for different days of the week. Check a place’s info on their website or Google maps listing beforehand, save yourself from a wasted trip.


Drinks in Britain are strongish as a rule. The average beer is around 5% ABV. But some are stronger. Most places have indications of strength but if you can’t see it, ask. In Britain there is a tradition of what some people call “warm” beer or ales. It is not actually warm! It is just non-refrigerated, what’s known as “cellar temperature” – and in Scotland that temperature can be pretty low! I guess “cool” beer is a better descriptor. This method of storage leads to the beer’s profile flavour being released. It is not a mistake by the staff, just a difference in product, for goodness sake don’t send it back and yell at them! A good pub’s well-kept beer is very flavourful. If you prefer your beer very cold, maybe stick to a bottled one, which will be in a fridge. You’ll recognise many of the brands, too. We also have a bit of a fad for IPAs and craft beers these days, but there are still plenty of other types, including Guinness.

Top tip: In some places it would be fine to get a small taster sample of a cask beer (i.e. one that comes out of a tap rather than a bottle), for free. So you can see what it’s like. (Don’t imagine you can abuse that, staff will send you away quickly if you try.) But it’s a nice way to know what you’re getting. Don’t be afraid to ask. And most places that serve food and drinks you can ask for a glass of tap water free, which is handy if you’re concerned about hydration. The water will be better than most bottled types, to be quite honest.

Of course there are wines, spirits, and the famous whisky available. Some pubs specialise in their ranges of single malts sold by the “dram” (or shot). Don’t worry about “doing it right”. If you want whisky with Coke and ice, that’s your goddamn business. I wouldn’t bother getting an expensive one for that, though.

Watch out: You may not drink alcohol on a train. You might see it being done, but it’s not allowed and you might get fined.

Alcohol service in most pubs or bars runs 10am to 11pm. Outdoor seating for food or drink is not allowed after 10pm in Glasgow city centre due to the noise nuiscance. Some places have (indoor) drinks service late licenses and may serve until 1 or 2 am. But that’s not to be expected as a default. Always ask staff what time they close bar service on a night out or you might find yourself stumped. If they call last orders or ring a bell, they mean they’ll stop serving soon, so get your final beer. You’ll get some time to drink it and then they will tell you when to go.

In addition, Scotland has laws to prevent supermarket sale of alcohol outside of 10am – 10pm too. So, plan ahead if you think you might like something boozy in your hotel room later.

Some folk do go a bit overboard and can be noisy. You might hear commotion from the streets at night if you’re in a busy area, so I recommend bringing earplugs or headphones you can sleep in if this might disturb you or sensory diversions for small kids. Usually, it’s only a bit of an issue if there are two rival football teams in town that night or your hotel is right next to a nightclub. It’s usually fine and people disperse after a short time.

Smoking etc

There’s no smoking or vaping allowed indoors, anywhere. Most places will let you out to have a cigarette or vape then let you back in. Some have beer gardens or outdoor tables which it is fine to smoke or vape. And sometimes you can have some friendly chats with other smokers, but if they ignore you, ignore them.

Watch out: Marijuana is still illegal in the UK, though you might smell it about occasionally. Anyway, don’t go blazing up in public and expecting it to be fine. You might get arrested and perhaps even deported. Certainly don’t try to bring it into the country!

In the hotel

I larger chain hotels you will get a smaller room than in some countries but it will have a good bed, a place to hang your clothes, a bathroom with shower and toilet as a standard minimum, an electric kettle for tea and coffees, and perhaps a mini-fridge, an iron or trouser press, a hairdryer, and probably some sort of airconditioning. Small hotels and bed and breakfasts may vary. Some will only offer a bathtub with a shower hose attachment, and some still have shared bathrooms. But a small B&B can be very characterful and hospitable.

You can drink water from the taps (faucets) in Scotland. All Scottish water is treated and safe to drink. If it is not drinkable, there will be a sign. I would stick to the cold water taps, though, as this will be from the mains and not stored in any tank. And I’d probably avoid public bathroom taps, for obvious reasons!


In Britain, dial 999 on any phone. It will be a free call, and will connect you to any emergency services such as ambulance, fire, police. Don’t use it for things under the level of emergency though. You really should feel like you’re in imminent danger of life or limb. There is a non-emergency health number 111 which you can use if you’re feeling unwell and want some advice, or you can use the website for some written advice. There’s also a non-emergency police page here if you think you want to report something that is not life-threatening such as theft etc. There may be charges for non-UK mobiles for using these numbers, so always see if there’s a website page first. We’re pretty technological here. Our pharmacies will also offer advice if you’re well enough to get to one. But please do wear a mask if you’re feeling under the weather but are sure you don’t have Covid. If you have Covid, please self-isolate. I know it is a lot of money you’ve spent on a trip but you might be saving someone else’s life.

General behaviour

Just don’t be rude. Okay that is very subjective, but you’ll know by the person’s reaction if you’ve annoyed them. Just apologise and try again.

We say please and thank you and sorry and excuse me or pardon me a lot. Sometimes it’s not so much about the politeness as the form. It’s like little sprinklings of social seasoning everywhere. If you forget, you won’t necessarily be persona non grata, but it’ll help you move through most things more smoothly if you use these.

Don’t stare at people, it makes them uncomfortable, or in some cases quite angry. Don’t make loud comments about someone’s appearance. Don’t touch strangers without permission, especially women or children.

Friends may hug if they’re both comfortable with that (if in doubt, “may I give you a hug?” is polite and you should very much take no for an answer), but not so much with the kissing on the cheek as Europe! A handshake is usually safe, but a little wave and a smile in greeting is a friendly alternative, especially post-pandemic.

Holding the door so it doesn’t swing shut in a person’s face is nice for anyone to do for anyone else, but please don’t do it if the person you’re holding it for is a long way away or they’ll feel obliged to hurry up. And if they’ve waved you on, just go. Women and people with disabilities can feel very patronised if you make a massive point of letting them go first or making it clear that you’re being chivalrous etc. But, you know, they might also appreciate it if it’s a small gesture of kindness and not a show of how courteous YOU are.

Keep aware of your surroundings. (Okay, this applies to British people too) A con where people stop dead in a corridor and take up the entire space is irritating. Same with pavements (sidewalks). Or coming into a quiet room talking loudly, cutting in front of folk because you didn’t look to see if there was a line… try not to be oblivious to others’ needs and you’ll get on just fine!

We are forgiving of other people’s cultural differences, but just a little bit of courtesy can make a difference to how people take you.

Talking to strangers

Asking directions on the street is usually fine. Demanding they tell you a bunch of tourist info, or anything personal, is taking things too far. They might offer some extra info. It’s a friendly country. But it can seem creepy if questions are invasive or too insistent.

Everyone’s entitled to some privacy, and to feel comfortable about a conversation. Take into account that people swearing is a regular thing here and almost always in good spirits, but if you are not happy with it, you could let them know and they might tone it down, depending on the environment. But you shouldn’t expect folk to conform to your cultural norms. And try not to be too outraged – it just doesn’t have the same impact here as it might do where you are from. Most folk will try not to swear in front of children or strangers but things can be overheard.

We don’t have a huge tradition in Scotland of talking to strangers at bars, but you might meet some folk who will, especially inside the convention or at a lively pub. You’ll know that they’re open to this if they start asking you questions back or responding in more than one syllable. Some might tell you they don’t want to talk, but most find it difficult to state this as bluntly as that and try to tell you by not engaging. It’s a social cue you should watch out for. Bar staff are usually chatty enough if they’re not busy. But try not to keep other people waiting or you’ll hear tutting and see some glares at the very least.

Also, please don’t take someone’s openness to conversation as indication that they are interested in you sexually. Some people are just friendly, and you shouldn’t read anything into it.

Grumbles about the weather, taking the piss out of each other (teasing or banter), moans about the government / sport / the selection of SFF these days on Netflix… all of these might sound a bit like Scottish people are having a bad time or hating each other. But most often, it’s lighthearted or just venting. British people will not often go into profound personal detail in their conversations until they get to know someone very well. This doesn’t mean they don’t like you or that they’re “cold fish”. It just takes a bit of time. Casual chat here is about back and forth, give and take. No one needs to try to “win” a conversation, and irreverent humour to puncture overinflated egos is common. Talking about how awesome you are, how rich, how much better than others will get you either shunned as a narcissist or they will laugh at you either to your face, or worse, behind your back. Don’t be the “Big Man on Campus” (or woman, or enby) and you’ll be more readily accepted. You don’t need to hide in a corner, but just try not to be pushy.

And please, never imply you know more about a person’s country / job / issues / university degree than they do. It’s really aggravating.

If in doubt, and you want to leave a social gathering of local people, just say you’re going to go. It’s fine. We’ve all got different energy levels / tolerance for noisy gatherings. And in the convention you will have a lot of sympathy. It’s deemed quite rude to just walk away. But on the other hand, sometimes you might need to. And if they tell you they’d like you to stay, you don’t have to. Keep yourself safe and happy.

Under the Moon: Collected Speculative Fiction by E.M. Faulds

Under the Moon: Collected Speculative Fiction by E.M. Faulds

British Fantasy Award for Best Collection 2023

15 SFFH tales with female protagonists

Available now at Ghost Moth Press or online retailers