self potrait 2011I am Darren Floyd, a writer/painter who lives in Cardiff.

 

I had my first solo London exhibition at the 100 Years Gallery in Hoxton on the 19th of February 2015.

 

The blog is mainly about gigs, music, running and art, which pretty much sums me up.

 

 

 

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Look at Your Hands

Posted on 17th January, 2018

Darren Floyd Parkrun 2018This year has taken me a bit of getting used to.

 

Initially I had a gentle introduction to 2018 as I reluctantly shrugged off my Christmas duvet. I'm gradually getting back into the swing of things. This includes getting back into my running regime. The goal for this year is to try and run a marathon in under three hours.

 

I'm tentatively off to a good start. Unlike last year I start without any injuries and kicking the booze (blimey December was a really boozy month for me) has seen my pace gradually begin to return. Part of the campaign saw me do my first official Parkrun for a year on Saturday morning. I'd one one or two last year but hadn't handed my barcode in to get the runs recorded.

 

The plan for the Parkrun is to beat my PB over the next two months and run it in under 19 minutes. So there was nothing resting on Saturday, it was just a base level run to get back into. I was still a tad nervous, and my left hamstring had been aching a bit, and I'd forgotten to put on my compression sock. I had at the back of my mind that I could stop if it wasn't going well.

 

The Parkrun have finally got a decent PA system, so everyone could finally hear the announcements and indeed enjoy a selection of Queen's greatest hits before the run. I located myself in the time coral I thought was realistic and set off. After the initial crush and I found some space and pushed myself at a decent pace. I'll not pretend it was comfortable and wobbled at my usual spot by the Welsh College of Music and Drama. In the last half I focussed on beating a runner with a manbum and then felt sick in the last 1000 yards (I don't think the two events are connected). When I crossed the finish line my eyes began to water and I did think for a moment that I was going to be sick (as the picture above illustrates), but I was fine as I stumbled towards a steward to show my barcode. I got a decent time of 20:35 which is okay for the time of the year.

 

I'm heading down to the Parkrun again this Saturday morning with ambition to shave a substancial amount of time of 20:35.

 

Debbie loves Joey

Posted on 11th December, 2017

Darren Floyd and some paintings 2017The dying embers of 2017 have sparked a few opportunities for me. Principally being able to exhibit in a gallery in Pall Mall. I don't feel that I've had a particularly productive year art wise, I don't think any of the work has really landed. Having said that this will be the third time that I've exhibited in London this year which isn't bad.

 

Sunday also coincided with the Odd Box fund-raising all-dayer. Odd Box are a fantastic Cardiff based record label who ran into some financial difficulty earlier on this year. They managed to get out of it via a crowd funding campaign, and the all day gig was put on to provide some additional help. So I had to be back in Cardiff for 2pm. I booked the Mega Bus up (glam, glam, glam, Lucian Freud would take the Mega Bus all the time etc etc) and the train back and worked out that it would be a tight turn around to get across town to drop the paintings off but that I had some wiggle room and that it was doable.

 

The weather yesterday was appalling, not even my cat wanted to go out, but with a heavy heart I strapped the smaller painting into my back pack, picked up the larger one and trudged through the rain to the bus stop. The Mega Bus was half an hour late and then crawled out of Cardiff. I could feel myself getting angry, it felt that cosmically that the universe was conspiring to fuck my day up, which is of course bollocks. I was able to let go of the anger and rationalise it to myself. As we started and stopped up a snow clad M4 I knew that there was nothing I could do and I'd just have to deal with the situation which was probably going to mean buying a new ticket back to Cardiff.

 

I was on the tube when I should have been on the train back to Cardiff. Negotiating the tube this close to Christmas was a gigantic pain in the ass, and it was pretty wet and miserable. However getting to Picadilly Circus as it started to snow was magical an I took a moment just to take it in. Finding the gallery was the easiest part of my day (despite walking in the wrong direction initially). I met Lelia, the exhibition organiser, shook her hand, then unwrapped my paintings. At one point I was wrapping the bubble wrap around my arm like a Doctor Who monster (Noah the Wirrin from 'The Ark in Space', 1975).

 

I looked around at the other work, which I was impressed by, then scarped back across London, which was considerably easier without two paintings. . The advance train ticket I had was valid for the booked train, so I thought I'd get a Burrito and buy a new ticket. However when I got to Paddington there was a train to Cardiff just about to leave so I thought I'd risk it. I say the train was about to leave, it would be another half an hour before it left Paddington, due to some tedious signalling and/or weather related problems. When the ticket inspector did come around I could feel myself beginning to blush as I handed the ticket over, fully expecting to have to buy a new ticket, but he didn't seem to give a shit. I think he had bigger fish to fry that day.

 

The train crawled to Cardiff, got so packed at Reading that people were standing all along the corridors and we finally got into Cardiff over an hour late. Cardiff Central looked like a refugee camp. I was okay(sih) about getting in so late as the line up for the Odd Box had been moved around as there'd been a few cancellations due to the weather which meant that it was more of an 'afternoon' than an 'all dayer', still a very strong line up though.

 

I met up with Sian and we went for a drink and intended to have some food, however when I went to order food they said that they stopped serving food at 4, I wanted to throw a table over but I calmed down and we went somewhere else. Cardiff was eerily quiet, I guess the weather putting people off coming in. We went across to The Moon for the gig and bumped into a load of friends and the first band we saw were The Loves, the vintage Cardiff indie heros, and very poppy and sweary they were too, great fun. Next up were a stripped down acoustic version of The Darling Buds, which again was great sparkly indie pop. I don't know there stuff very well, but there were some obvious devotees of the band there. They are signed to Odd Box so I'll have to check them out.

 

Helen Love - Oddbox Al Dayer December 2017

 

Other than supporting Trev and Oddbox the other reason I went to the all-dayer was because Helen Love was playing. I've been a fan of her techno indie pop for awhile, as especially her song 'Debbie loves Joey'. I love the song because it's got such a grimy romantic vision of New York. Boy Helen Love is a big Ramones fan, even down to the way she grabs the mike stand. Helen was brilliant, she had a Wembley Stadium ambition realised on a Liddl budget. The banging, zingy bubblegum pop  was back with some gonzo back projection. Later in the set they set off a snow machine which covered the people at the front, so I'm glad I was at the back. Love, love, loved 'Debbie loves Joey' it just made the stress of the day melt away.

 

The Odd Box all-dayer is probably my last gig of the year, and it rounds off a great year.

Why Choose

Posted on 10th November, 2017

Running times for Gwdihw gig 9th of Nov 2017Thursday night and the third gig of the week. It was Shopping at the Gwdihw.

 

I'd been to see Sacred Paws earlier in the year, and Shopping are Rachel Aggs other band, which does seem to be damming with faint praise I know.

 

I cycled up to the Gwidi Hw to see the lovely Julia Short and her boyfriend entering the venue. They were nice enough to buy me a drink and we yapped about gigs and Swn. It was pretty packed and good see a lot of friends including Trev Oddbox, Keef and Anna. The first band on were a joyfully shambolic Cardiff band, when often the drummer seemed to be playing a different song from the rest of the band.

 

The next band on were Gauche from Washington DC, never heard of them before and thought they were great. I'm a sucker for a singing drummer and a band swapping their instruments. I also love it when a band looks like an odd mix together which is what Gauche were, I could sorta hear some of the influences but they'd been thrown up in the air and had landed in a great pop indie mix.

 

I was in the mood for merch! So between the bands I went to the back of the Gwdihw when they'd discoved how much the t-shirts were. i gambled on a medium fit (I think it's paid off) and was convinced by Shopping's drummer to buy an album, then after finding a fiver I didn't know I had on the recommedation of Rachel Aggs iI upgraded to the limited edition clear vinyl version, have to say the sleeve is rubbish.

 

Shopping were great, they've got a harder edge to them than Sacred paws, although the same afro beat influences. I may be wrong but I think they did some Sacred Paws tracks. they had a technical hitch half way through the set and the drummer filled in by telling jokes, e.g "How do ypou make Lady Ga Ga cry? Poke her face." which made me laugh. Shopping were great bouncy, energteic gig fun and Rachel is such a great front person which ever band she's in. The band were having a good time which always helps.

 

I may have actually witnessed one of the first true encores of my gig going career (although Skinny Girl Diet were unprepared for an encore when I saw them earlier this year in Bristol). The PA music came on and the band walked off stage, not that they could get far. People were calling for more, the band looked at each other, shrugged and got back on and did another song.

 

Great night, brilliant bands and unexepected yapping with good friends. So three very different gigs all at different venues in Cardiff, it's what life's all about, well for me at least. 

Short Elevated Period

Posted on 8th November, 2017

Wire aren't the most chatty of bands.

 

I've seen them around a dozen times and in varying degrees of grumpy. Fuck it, they're allowed to be, it sorta chimes in with their awkward, angular music, but blimey they were monosyllabic even by their standards. 

Wire, Cardiff Globe 8th Nov 2017

 

Wire were playing The Globe in Cardiff, which seems to have become my de-facto venue of 2017. It was pretty busy, which was good to see on a cold Wednesday night. My gig companion Jason Maybury had to cancel due to consumption so I asked if my neighbour Steve wanted to go which he did, cool beans. We stopped by The Globe to check stage times. The woman said that support were from a Cardiff band which Steve and I didn't know, so we popped next door to The Pear Tree for a pint.

 

It's a mark of a band's status and longevity where the new boy has been in the band for seven years, and now guitarist Matthew Simms seems to have all the hair for the rest of the band. Indeed Simms seemed to be the happiest member of the band, smiling out at the crowd and generally wigging out. 

 

The upside of a lack of stage banter is that the band can really bang through the back catalogue (see also my beloved Pixies). The set consisted mostly of their last four albums, with 'Three Girl Rhuma' making a welcome mid-set appearance. My entry point for Wire was their 2010 'comeback' album 'Red Barked Tree' and so I'm happy with whatever they play and I really enjoyed 'Short Elevated Period' from new album 'Silver/Lead'.

 

I was sorely tempted by the well stocked merch table but kept my powder dry for tomorrow's Shopping gig. Wire were great, and The Globe got the sound right for once, even if it didn't involve the sound woman pushing through the crowd to stand infront of stage with her hand clamped over her mouth.

 

So now I've got the Shopping gig which will be 3 out of 3, I'm feeling tired but I know I can do it coach...

Nothing and Everything

Posted on 7th November, 2017

Mark Eitzel - Clwb Iffor Bach Cardiff 6th OctI'm having a moderately ambitious week. In the dying ambers of 2017 this week I'm seeing three gigs! 

 

First up last night was Mull Historical Society and Mark Eitzel at Clwb Ifor. I'm pretty sure I've seen aka Colin Macayntre before, can't remember where, but he was performing solo style with just a guitar and his daughters Tablet. He was fun and engaing. 

 

I'll make every effort to see Mark Eitzel when he's in town. He manages to be slightly chippy and shy at the same time, and has an incredible soaring voice. I leaned across to Sian at one point and whispered: "Shouldn't we be in a smokey New York bar?" as that's the atmosphere he generates. He reminds me of John Grant and Rufus Wainwright as all three have a Torch song quality to their music. Eitzel sang four songs before he spoke to the crowd. He was pretty acerbic on topics from the current political situation in the States to Cardiff's homeless problem, which is getting very bad. He does it in such a charming way it's hard not to be, well, charmed. 

 

The lion's share of his set came from his excellent current album 'Hey, Mr Ferrymen', I don't think there were any 'American Music Club' (his former band) songs, but I don't know them that well. As per usual midway through the set I needed to visit the bathroom. Sian told me after that when I went in the door slammed behind me and Mark Eitzel.

 

"Boy that guy really needs to piss...in my mouth!" Upon reflection...

 

It was a short set at an hour, (which on a school night is no bad thing) with two songs as an encore after a bit of back and fore with the band. Great gig, next one up are post punk legends Wire on Wednesday night...

Newport State of Mind

Posted on 2nd November, 2017

After a relatively disappointing running season, hampered by injuries and illnesses I seem to have got my pace back. It's post the Cardiff half, I suspect that had I had an extra month's training that I would have got a very good time, but you never know. 

 

Newport Marathon Route

 






Shortly after the Cardiff half, maybe even the next day, I found out that yet again I hadn't got into the London marathon via the ballot. I've never got in in via the ballot. This put a spanner in the works of my 2018 running plans. I was contemplating my next move when out of the blue the inaugural Newport marathon was announced. The timing was very smart as the organised snagged many people like me who hadn't got a place in London.

 

There's been talk over the last few years of a Cardiff marathon organised by Run Wales, the people behind the Cardiff half. The Cardiff half is now a world class race so I was hoping it would come off. In the end it went to Newport, which I suppose is fair enough, they don't get much. It still means that I can sleep in my own bed the night before and after the race and it shouldn't be too much of a pain in the ass to get to. 

 

It's been advertised as a flat, fast course, which attracted me. My goal is to do a marathon in under 3 hours, with my best time so far being 3:18 in Tokyo last year. To achieve an under 3 hours time I will have to - not so much up - but change my training. One of the milestones will be to run a 5k in under 19 minutes, something I've come close to, but haven't managed to achieve.  I'm running good times at the moment, and my 'big run' on a Sunday is getting quicker and quicker. Running at a 6:40 mile pace comfortably is what I'm aiming for. The Newport marathon is at the end of April so must make sure that that I don't peak to early. It feels good having something to train towards. 

Bugs and Flowers

Posted on 12th October, 2017

My life is full of joy. Part of that is my daily cycle to work. However Wednesday morning was a bit of a slog. The Autumn mornings are dark and starting to get cold. One of the gears has failed on my bike and I was huffing and puffing up the Taff Trail towards Caerphilly while listening to the Marc Riley 6Music show on my phone, what I heard made me smile a lot. Marc had alt rock (?) singer Jeffrey Lewis in session. A few months ago I'd emailed Jeff to ask him to play his track 'Bugs and Flowers'. I've always loved the track and had used it recently to illustrate the subject of impermanence and gratitude. It's a beautiful, funny song, and lo and behold he was doing it on the session! Amazing!

 

Sian wasn't keen on the gig cause it was a school night, can't say I blamed her. I got there at 9 hoping to see one of the support bands - 'The Gentle Good' - who I love, but they were on and off by the time I'd arrived. I was pretty sure I'd bump into some friends at the gig as I wondered a) to buy the nice looking but expensive vinyl and b) whether to live dangerously and have a beer. As I was pondering these questions Julia Short - a friend introduced to me by Steve Ford - said hello, she'd left her boyfriend at home so I bought us a beer and we yapped about gigs and the like. 

 

I wasn't quite prepared for uplifting the gig would be. I'd seen Jeff before and he is very funny, but he seemed to up the quirk and the humour tonight. I knew he did mini talks and presentions but I don't think I'd ever seen him do one at a gig before. We were treated to a 'low budget' drawn film aboutcomedy revenge and another about the fascinating life of Cannibal Monkeys, which was hilarious. Oh yeah there was another at the end which depicted a very literal interpretation of the Nirvana song 'Big Cheese'. 

 

Jeffrey Lewis Clwb Ifor 11th of October Cardiff






'Posters' was the second song in and was full of bounce and energy, which sort of set the tone for the gig. Jeffrey was joined on stage by his brother Jack. Clwb Ifor was pretty busy for a Wednesday night and there was a good atmosphere, except for two oinks who - as ever for a gig in Cardiff - were spectacularly fucked up. They did barge their way through the audience, but I have seen worst behaved audience members.

 

It was a funny gig, and the humour was on the darker side of the scale and included songs called 'Crack Head Ian', and a song about Cannibal Monkeys illustrated by Jeff's drawings. Very funny and very grim. 

 

Then came 'Bugs and Flowers'. I was very happy, and mouthed the words along with Jeff. I looked over and someone else was bouncing up and down, smiling and mouthing all the words as well. 

 

Great gig, probably the best set I've seen him do and it was a bonus to bump into Julia. I'll be back at Clwb Ifor on Friday night to see Skinny Girl Diet. 

Oh, Spaceman

Posted on 3rd October, 2017

Going to a gig the night before you’re running a half marathon is probably not the best pre-race preparation. My training for this year’s Cardiff Half hadn’t gone great, and it’s only recently that I've recovered from my reoccurring calf injury and have been able to get some of my pace back. I knew I wasn't going to get a PB so I thought 'Why not go see Micah P Hinson in the Globe?'. Great musician and playing just round the corner from me. 

 

It wasn’t the best set I’ve ever seen Micah P do for a number of reasons. He was having sound problems which did hobble him for three or four songs. The other handicap were three people close to the front who were either pharmaceutically or alcoholically heroically fucked. Now that in itself isn’t a problem, it’s a Saturday night and however you want to enjoy it is up to you. However the Globe is a small venue, it was little under half full and Micah P is not a ‘Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care’ kinda act. The three well refreshed people were singing songs back to Micah P, clapping and generally being yahoos. This was not just my opinion, Micah P was clearly pissed off and it created a really horrible, awkward atmosphere. My mate Steve Ford had managed to get a night off looking after his new born son to come to the gig and he was squirming along with me at the tension in the room.

 

Micah P Hinson - The Globe - Cardiff 30th Sep 2017

 

Thankfully it settled down after about six songs and he really took off. He was ostensively playing his new album  ‘Holy Strangers’ which is great but grim. Steve Ford ashen of face shook his head vigorously saying “That man knows what’s it’s about.” When Micah spoke about the slightly traumatic birth of his first son.  He went off but came back on for an encoure and much to my joy he played my favourite song 'The Day Texas Sank to the Bottom of the Sea'. In the 4 or 5 times I seen him I've never seen him do that song. Amazing! Except that the Fucked Three started singing along loudly, so loudly that Micah P stopped and said: "Please don't sing along. Do it in your car if you want, or in your bath, but not here."  They did stop, but honestly, it's a very Cardiff think to get fucked up for a gig, regardless of the type of performer. It's a selfish idiotic thing to do and it's quite a blight at this particular venue. 

 

Micah was signing albums after and I felt that I had to apologise for the crowd. 

"Yeah it was a tough crowd." he said "But you need that sometimes to push you." He signed my album, I thanked him for the encore and he tahnked me for coming and shook my hand. A great end to a patchy evening. I hope it doesn't put him off playing Cardiff. 

 

Running shirt Cardiff Half Marathon 2017The next morning I felt like death warmed up. I'd have prefered to have a bit more time to chill and drink coffee but I couldn't get out of bed and then the bath. I did get dressed and out and walked down to the Hilton. I always head to the Hilton to queue up for the toilets which are always preferable to the porto-loos and then to the running pen. I didn't leave it to the last moment, just about half an hour until the gun time to get a good place.

 

The countdown and then we were off. As per tradition I ran into one of the toilets in the first mile for a slash and then got running again. I felt pretty good, the pacewas okay if a little punishing. I'd set it to a sub-1:30 time just to push myself. 

 

The good thing about the route is that there's long stretches of straight flat road, Penarth road from mile 2 to 3 and a bit is like that so you can chew the miles and focus on your pace. The only moderately hard part of the course is after mile 3 where you go up a hil toward Cardiff Marina, the support dies away and the only sound is the heavy breathing and heaving dap slapping of the runners. It last for - at most - a quarter of a mile and it's a nice slope towards mile 4 and 5 around Cardiff Barrage towards the Bay. The salty sea air across the Barrage was bracing and I shouted 'Future of the Left!" to Kelso the former bassist and current (?) of Truckers of Husk. 

 

The Bay was just about chewing miles. I hadn't hit my pace since mile 3 but I was doing 7:15 miles which were decent. I didn't go for the water stations and felt pretty good. The injury wasn't flaring up so I just got into the rhythm. I yelled "Roath!" as I ran into my 'manor' around mile 9. I looked out for Sian (she later told me she didn't turn up) or friends but nuthin! 

 

I did find the miles around Roath Park Lake a bit tough, They always seem to go on forever, but then weirdly after mile 10 the endorphins kicked in and I sped up. I actually enjoyed the last two miles and managed my customary sprint to the finish. I got in at 1:37 which was better than the 1:45 I thought I might get. Got my medal, the nice running shirt and filled my boots with free bananas (not literally...).

 

Sian and I had a full afternoon planned of drinks and friends so I was keen to get home. The sooner I got home the longer I could spend in the bath drinking the excellent Roath Brewery porter 'Death Junction'. Part of the route of the half is on the way back to my house, I was feeling pretty good,  so yes, like a twat I rejoined the race for half a mile and ran with my medal. From the sidelines I heard people say: "He's running it again!"

 

Great day which shows Cardiff it a great light, with a truly world class course. 

At Home, At Work, At Play

Posted on 28th September, 2017

Ron Mael - Sparks, Bristol O2 - 26th SEPTEMBERLike most kids growing up in the 70's I was equal parts traumatised and fascinated by the sight of Hitler playing keyboards on 'Top of the Pops'. Ron Mael's menacing gimlet eyed stare was in sharp contract to the energetic antics of  his brother Russell, Sparks lead singer.

 

It came as a bit of a surprise to me about ten years ago to learn that Sparks were still going, and actually producing some pretty decent music. Then on a few visits to D'Vinyl - Roath's finest second hand record store - I hit a rich seam of cheap Sparks records while crate digging, and my love of the band started to grow.

 

So Sian and I found ourselves in Bristol Tuesday night to see Sparks at the O2 Academy. Sparks have enjoyed an Indian Summer recently due to a collaboration with Franz Ferdinand, and their new album 'Hippopotamus' which is superb, arch and catchy like all the great songs in their back catalogue.

 

The O2 is a shit venue. Terrible overpriced cooking lager, 'orrible toilets and now extra draconian security just to make you feel really welcome. Some of our mates were thinking of going but were put off by the O2. We went for a couple in the Hatchet (a great unpretentious Heavy Metal pub across the road from the O2), and got in a few minutes before Sparks took to the stage.

 

Dressed in co-ordinating stripes (and Ron looking menacing and dapper in a stripped suit) the band were straight out of the gates with a song from the new album - who's name escapes me - and then BOOM! second song 'At Home! At Work! At Play!,' amazing. The Mael brothers were backed by a very tight band and they bounced through a set where songs from 'Hippopotamus' rubbed shoulders with the hits. I'm a bigger fan of their 70's guitar led stuff than their 80's more electronic songs, but holy shit 'Number 1 Song in Heaven was jaw droopingly good. Midway through the song Ron got up from behind his keyboard and did a dance, it was even more terrifying than his deathly 'It puts the lotion in the basket' stare. Russell spent the set bouncing around the stage and it's hard to believe that he's 68, he did look knackered at the end though.

 

Sparks, Bristol O2 - 26th SEPTEMBER

 

 

It's a mark of a great gig that Sparks could do 'This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us' before the encore, including original squealing guitar solo. The encore included a storming 'Armature Hour' and 'Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)' and it was out into the warm September evening.

 

A great gig and one of my favourite of the year.

Runaway

Posted on 16th August, 2017

It's been an odd year for my running habit. I don't seem to have been able to get my pace back. It's down to a few prosaic reasons.

 

The charger for my Garmin after ailing for awhile died and so I haven't been able to judge my pace or distance. I bought a new charger but it was the wrong size. Other than the Cardiff Half I'm not training for a race so there hasn't been an urgent need to know my stats so I've just been making an aproximation of distance and speed. This could all change next month when I find out if I've got a place in next year's London marathon but for now I'm happy just to spin my wheels.

 

What's been a bigger pain in the ass is that in the last week I had a reoccurance of the calf injury I got at the start of the year. My own stupid fault. I punted in a few extra runs, and did the ParkRun for the first time in ages on Saturday in an effort to regain my pace. My calf had started to hurt in the week and that morning, but I thought 'Nah, it'll be fine, I'll run through it.' Big mistake. I I set off at a brisk pace, it felt comfortable although the calf was hurting but around three quauters of the way my calf really began to hurt to the extent that I had to stop and hobble back. First time ever I've not finished the ParkRun. 

 

The immediate impact was that I spent the next two days with an icepack on my leg and didn't go for my usual Big Run on the Sunday. I was pissed off but my fault. I suppose the good(ish) news is that it seems to be healing quicker than last time, so I may go out for a short clomp on Friday and hopefully I can reinstate my Big Run on Sunday.