I love this city.

Friday night HC and I saw a Bill Hicks style show – not so much an impersonator, as he didn't parrot Hicks' material… but he claimed to be the recently returned from heaven second coming of Hicks. So, whatever you call that, I guess. Scarily uncannily accurate, and the material was exactly the sort of thing you could imagine Hicks delivering – the right amount of cynicism, contempt, logic and honesty with a rich vein of bluntness and vulgarity thrown in. And I thought he was very very good.

To follow, a quick slap up meal at Belgo Chalk Farm (their duck breast is delicious, and their beef casserole even better), then back to Hannah's to catch some Melbourne Comedy Festival malarkey (courtesy of Marticus).

Saturday's plan was to meet Craig & Kate & Charlie & Dan & Richie & HC for lunch – the designated meeting point being Mornington Crescent tube at 2pm. Rounding the corner from Parkway however our eyes were assaulted by the sight of a continuous line of Santas snaking all the way up Camden High Street (and possibly sharing one enormous stick-on beard between the lot of them).

They seemed in good spirits – anyone who had drunk that much beer by that time in the afternoon generally is – and they all crammed down into MC tube, enabling Dan to snap this fairly surreal vision.

Lunch at Gilgamesh again (pricey and a little bit poncey, but still pretty good).

Richie & I then embarked on the day's original mission (it now being 4pm and the threads of time weaving together in their usual pattern) – to buy some more whisky ! There are several really good whisky shops in London, but being completists we figured it was worth trying all of them out: today's was Royal Mile Whiskies. As fortune would have it we were treated to a tasting of the Compass Box range, and a fine brace of spirits they were too! Some excellent tips among that lot, although I suspect that by the time I get around to being in a tenable whisky aquiring position again they'll have sold out of their Flaming Heart. But that Peat Monster I could taste all the way to our next destination…

And probably beyond, had our next destination not been the Scotch Malt Whisky Society clubrooms and, hardly surprisingly, more whisky ! Again, some standout drams to be had in there (you'd be pissed off if there wasn't) although it seemed that half of the winter bottling list had sold out in the month after it had been published and thus leaving us with some fairly non-obvious tasting choices. One was described of having a taste containing “notes of sugared mice”. Hilary's more succinct notes on that particular whisky were: “Yuck”. Apart from that however there was a brilliant peaty babe of a thing with definite smoky bacon elements, which in my eagerness to get tasting I put before tasting the minty light one. Pah. I don't really know what I'm doing anyway.

You'd think a fun-packed Saturday would end there, wouldn't you thrillseekers, but no ! Next task was to high-tail it down to Victoria Station to meet Julia & Stephane, over from Marseille for the next couple of days, and drop them at their hotel. As always, it was excellent to see Julia, albeit rugged up in scarf, ski jacket & hat it was a far cry from her usual breezy summery attire. But then I've only ever been to Marseille in the summer. Aaaaah, la plage…

ANYWAY.

Sunday morning (don't worry, we're almost there) I took them for breakfast at Bar Solo (a favourite Camden haunt) and then we had a bit of a look around the Camden Markets. Una came down & met us there as well. Lesson for today: if you're going to change money at a bureau de change make sure you have an idea of the daily rates before wondering whether you've been fleeced. We went to swap some Euros at a back-of-shop bureau (in the form of a guy with a load of notes in his pocket) then got cold feet about the whole thing: turns out the exchange he gave was better than the Thomas Cook they went to later in the day. Quelle dommage.

Bolting home to get changed I nipped out to Jess's place for Simon's birthday party & screening of his new drama pilot – missed most of it, but the 5 minutes I saw didn't appear to suck. There's a review for ya, kiddies. Spent most of the quality-but-brief visit discussing Tim Minchin and various other comedy fixtures, but there was no time to dally as the New Model Army gig started at 7.

So once again Richie, Hilary, Richie's workmate – and fellow dark conspirator to the running of the universe – Carl & I took up positions at The Astoria and rocked hard to one of the most consistently into-it bands I've ever seen. Not as much human pyramid action as there usually is, but a solid, honest, hard-playing gig: I couldn't detect whether anything was played differently to before, but every chord was smashed with such conviction, which was definitely appreciated by the black-clad mass of fans moshing & swaying before them.

There's more, but it's bad form of me to not blog for a month and then assault your brains with a 10,000 word epic.

Guess I'll talk about Tenacious D another time.