My Edinburgh: Lloyd Langford on playing Russian roulette with luck at the Fringe


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The Independent Culture

Upon arriving in Edinburgh for the Fringe, my show aside, my main concern is my accommodation. For performers, finding suitable accommodation for the festival is often a mixture of trial and error, following tip-offs and plain dumb luck.

You’re essentially playing Russian roulette with Nicholas Van Hoogstraten. Fingers crossed you end up in a palace, rather than a leftover set from Trainspotting. You want the previous tenants to have left you something in the fridge, rather than the toilet. Don’t get me wrong; I do feel sympathy for the Edinburgh residents. Many of them, with no real interest in the festival and faced with an annual plague of clowns, do the sensible thing and go on holiday, renting out their homes at vastly inflated prices. As a visitor, the aim is to be ripped off by a good person, rather than an unscrupulous one. No, I can’t quite make sense of that either.

You should never trust any photograph on a dating website, fast food menu or estate agents website. Everything featured will be a different size and have far more mayonnaise smeared on it than you anticipated. I turned up one year to my place to survey the wreckage conveniently omitted from the online pictures and came to the conclusion that the property’s previous incarnation had been to house a party of disaffected chimpanzees. Whilst the broken metal furniture, thick layer of dust and staircase blocked with junk provided a heady rush of nostalgia for Swansea LaserQuest, it wasn’t suitable to actually live in.

There are many stories like this. Sean Collins once stayed in a place so infested with fleas that when he rolled up his trouser leg to show me, his calf resembled a sort of throbbing inverse salami. Stephen K Amos turned up at his new lodgings to find a massive framed Golliwog portrait above the mantelpiece. A provocative insult to an avowed Bonne Maman man. But then sometimes lady luck smiles on you too. One year I stayed somewhere with a both a jacuzzi and a sound system in the bathroom. The owner’s devotion to jazz funk ensured any attempts to bathe and listen to music heavily resembled the penultimate scene of an 80’s porn film.

I guess what I’m saying is please spare a thought for the performers at this year’s festival. Many of us will be losing a lot of money and a hefty chunk of that will be on our housing. Whilst critics, punters and TV producers might all be looking for the next big thing, we’ve all got our fingers crossed for a decent bed, quiet neighbours and a reliable wi-fi connection.

Lloyd Langford: Galoot, Gilded Balloon, to 26 August (0131 622 6552)