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AND talking of Sheffield pubs sharing names with novels (which regular readers will know we were a couple of days ago), is this one too much of a stretch?

An old bloke in the Three Tuns (“stick this in your paper”) notes there was once a boozer in Cambridge Street called The Barleycorn - sort of similar(ish) to Jack London’s 1913 tale John Barleycorn.

Any more for any more?

AND talking of novels, there’s a lovely acknowledgement in new self-published thriller Friends & Foes by city author James Johnson. Haven’t read it myself because I’m not a massive fan of crime fiction - not unless it’s the Famous Five anyway - but I couldn’t help notice the front page. “To the city of Sheffield,” it reads. “I love you.”

HE’S The Diary’s favourite French magician. In fact, he’s the only French magician The Diary knows, and he’s set to start teaching the tricks of his trade.

Chateauroux-born, Solly Street-based illusionist Benoit Compin will be holding public classes for wannabe wandsters from next week.

At £25 for 90 minutes it doesn’t come cheap but you do get a free prop each week and the chance to perform at a Christmas show later in the year.

What you won’t get, of course, is the 30-year-old’s natural Gallic charisma. “Hey, I can’t give all my secrets away,” he shrugs.

Sign up for the classes, which run Wednesdays at 4.30pm, at Site Gallery in Brown Street, at www.bzmagic.co.uk

SOPHIE who? Forgive me something of a mini-rant but was anyone else a left a little underwhelmed to hear Miss Habibis - a 19-year-old barmaid who’s already been kicked off this year’s X Factor - has been chosen to set the fireworks at Sheffield’s After Dark extravaganza?

I mean, could the fifth biggest city in the country really not have attracted someone with just a touch more razzmatazz? What next? Stavros Flatly switching on the Christmas lights?