News and Events.

Prose piece from local author Rachel Genn here. A copy of her novel popped through our door last month and it's a great read. We'd highly recommend you picking one up. As ever, please send any prose or poetry submissions to joe@nowthenmagazine.com.

Opus Presents...Upstairs/Downstairs.

12th November.
The Riverside.
Free Entry.

This is the second event of our new series at The Riverside, featuring the likes of the Mercury Music Prize nominated band Portico Quartet and local outfit 7 Black Tentacles downstairs, with Word Life hosting upstairs with a performance by Phantom Dog, an open mic poetry session and more to be confirmed. Portico Quartet alone are charging over £15 for shows across the country, but this is a free show at one of Sheffield's best pubs. Get down early.

Word Life vs Opus Acoustics.

1st December (7pm).
The Riverside.
Free Entry.

Word Life will be taking over one of the regular Opus Acoustics Thursday slots with an open mic session and some special guests from further afield. More TBC.

Gossipy Gob and Other Sheffield Poems.

Long gone local institutions like Firvale's Sunbeam Cinema, Redgate's toy shop and Coles Corner have inspired a new collection of Sheffield poetry that has just been unveiled in the city. The ten verses and accompanying photos of old Sheffield are part of The Moor's multi-million pound regeneration drive as it counts down to work starting on its new markets building.

The Gossipy Gob and Other Sheffield Poems collection was created by award-winning local writer Michael Glover. Standing over six and a half foot high, the poems adorn hoardings that surround one side of the site earmarked for the new markets building along the Earl Street. Michael Glover is a successful poet, art critic for The Independent and editor of international poetry forum The Bow-Wow Shop.

Eugene on Site.

Eugene went into the toilets behind the office and sat down to roll a fag to try to cure his ill-feeling. He looked around the walls and squinted: along with graffiti, the chipboard seemed to be covered with tiny grey bouquets. He went up closer and saw they were not flowers but bunches of pencilled numbers. Individual records of how much had been earned, written here in the bog in private. Day-rate posies. It made him smile as he finished his fag. Nobody liked to look like a grabber.

Close to noon, Eugene found himself crushed with awkwardness, crossing the yard in front of the cabin, joining a stream of workers who made up the first sitting of lunchtime eaters. Reluctantly, he headed into the cabin.

The air was steamy and held the mild spice of sausage but, further in, was sharpened by a pickled tang. There was a ragged bunch of men, in the main white but between them some darker faces, bad teeth, flatter noses, scarred hands. A man playing chess was sitting in the steam wearing what seemed to Eugene to be a woman's fur coat. They played backgammon and dominoes, ate huge discs of cerise sausage and smaller, thicker slices like dark brown poker chips. Some men had tubs, lids stiffly opening on to lumps of intense-smelling grey pork and whole small cucumbers. One man, with a wide black face, ate a dried flat fish like a biscuit. The snap of the bite, the nerves and the smell of everything at once turned Eugene's stomach.

He saw Buck and instinctively walked up to him. Buck was talking to one of the men and, without looking away from him, put his arm around Eugene. Buck squeezed, let go and started the rounds. Eugene followed, swallowing hard, flooded with feeling. On introduction, some of the men stood, some bowed, some hailed Buck as 'Very great boss!' Buck ran through the names quickly, as if threading beads: Ali-Aristotle-Sokol-Fernando-Agi-Illian-Vitus- Roland-Uris-Mario-Haji-Beni. Eugene wanted his own name to sit snugly on the string and tried to push the part of his brain that looked forward into feeling part of this easy flow. For now, others' comfort was teasing: all around him and yet out of his reach. He just wanted to be known, to sit and laugh at their jokes, have a smoke and play cards. Buck left him to eat; he didn't know that Eugene never ate in front of strangers.

If only he could fit into a game, a structure, stop sticking out. He stared at the card-players and tried to decipher what the game was from their movements but became mesmerized by a goat this time, slung round the neck of a fresh-faced lad on a card; the festoons around the edge were acorns. The players were still the same: Uri and Babe? Eugene wondered again if he had heard right.

Jack was also at the card table, trying to eat the sandwiches he'd made that morning. Eugene went up to the table and sat down. Immediately, Babe offered his hand and smiled, showing teeth the colour of toffee. Eugene smiled back and his lips clamped closed as if he felt the wind whistle through the brown-ringed holes between each of Babe's teeth.

'Hello again,' Babe said. 'You may call me Babe.' He winked and continued with the game.

'And you-may-call-me-Babe is fucked because Noble is looking for him,' chuckled Uri.

'I was watching your game. Earlier.'

'Uri is always early. He has the rhythms of prison. But I am early because I am wise with my time.'

Uri narrowed his eyes at Eugene, then guffawed and soon enough they were acting as if Eugene had always been there. It made him feel better, so he asked Uri, 'Why d'you call him Babe?'

'It's Fidil, really,' began Uri, and Babe tried to explain but Uri put his hand over Babe's mouth and whispered that little Fidil had undergone massive changes. Babe pulled the big paw away and, between them, they explained that Fidil had once sensibly led to Fiddler (he played) but had taken a wrong turn into Kiddy Fiddler (he didn't), expanding wildly into 'Kiddy Fiddler on the Roof' for a couple of days before leaping to Babe.

'And now, finally, I like it!'

'And Noble, is that his real name?'

'Buck and Deirdre very pissed when he was born, eh, Jack?' said Babe.

'Aye, Noble's the boss all right,' Jack piped up, his mouth full.

'I thought Buck ran this job.'

'Buck backs down to his wonderful son.'

'He doesn't seem like that kind of a fella.' Eugene was disappointed. He already loved Buck. '

He isn't, but Noble is his own law.'

'Is he that bad?'

Babe lowered his voice: 'Let me say it like this. If you English had a single word for total and utter cunt, I would be using it now.'

Uri had tuned in to the lowered voice. 'Huttercunt?' He was already flicking to H in the fat, fanned book hanging from his tool belt. He was paranoid: prison had given him this gift too, and he nurtured it with high-class stimulants. He thumbed the dictionary constantly as if it contained his old reason.

'Forget it, Uri. Come on, shuffle.'

Uri shuffled the cards and Eugene noticed that half a finger was missing on his right hand. The nub that remained above the big knuckle danced, trying to keep up with the others. On it there was a rough tattoo, not like the others, a shakily filled-in diamond. He offered the cards to Eugene to cut and when he did they all laughed at him.

'Shapku s duraka ne snimayut,' shouted Uri.

Babe saw Eugene's bewildered face and, with his better English, translated: 'One should not take the hat away from a fool. Durak means fool, this is name of game. If you split the pack you are the fool.'

Uri tried to draw him back in, clapped his back, but Eugene wouldn't deal now so Uri pulled open his shirt. On his chest he pointed to a woman sitting astride a missile-shaped penis. 'You know Furtseva? She was my minister of culture. She was like Russia herself, needed a fuck in the ass!'

Eugene looked away from the symbol as the men laughed and Uri pulled his shirt tight round his arms and bent forwards. The cabbage-sized shoulders were covered with perfect pictures of thick, fringed military epaulettes, and he bent down to show a grinning cat on top of each. 'I am laughing off my face at Soviet Union.'

Eugene tried to smile.

The Cure is available from constablerobinson.com