Our Story of the Week is Sweetheart – a heart-warming story from the writer Joe Cushnan.

Joe was born and raised in Belfast, but left for England at twenty-two in 1976 to pursue a career in retail management. Following this career, and having always had a passion for writing, he placed his memoir/handbook Retail Confidential with a publisher.

Over the past decade, Joe has accumulated an impressive portfolio of published features, journals and poetry. Some of his work includes self-published books of fun verse, and a biography of a 1960s film star, Stephen Boyd: from Belfast to Hollywood. He also writes a regular blog.

In Sweetheart, Joe explores the lingering effects of love and loss.


Every Tuesday and Thursday morning at ten o’clock before closing the front door Bill would call out: “I won’t be long”. The supermarket was a short walk to the end of the street. The grocery list hardly changed. He was a creature of habit in his eightieth year and he would always take his time shopping, walking the same route around the aisles on every visit, buying no more than ten items. He became frustrated very occasionally when products were moved to different parts of the store but he muttered to himself not to get too cross with the staff. They knew him and he knew them. It was a friendly place. Bill did not want to upset anyone with petty complaints. The girl on the delicatessen counter was used to him asking for three thin slices of ham and a small pork pie. The fishmonger always cut his piece of cod fillet in half and bagged each piece separately. Bill liked to keep one in the fridge and one in the freezer. The lad on the fruit and vegetable section would always help Bill find the best quality potatoes and bananas. Nothing was too much trouble. Bill thought of himself as ‘old school’ with regard to good manners. He was polite to everyone but he had noticed a decline in people of all ages saying “please” and “thank you”. It doesn’t cost anything, he thought and it’s not difficult to be nice. So this supermarket suited him very well with its courteous employees. They were good company.Read more…