If the public don't have the discipline to watch what they put into their mouths then the state is just going to have to do it for them... "The lines are always long but no one ever complains about that. It’s to be expected. After all, this service is provided by the government. More than that, it’s for our own good.I shuffle along in the queue. The girl behind the plexi-glass window sees me out the corner of her eye and continues to monitor her customer’s products but I know she is thinking about me. The way she purses her lips gives away her disgust. The buzzer sounds and customer 4572 inserts his card into the payment slot. No unauthorised items. His units are deducted, his items are dispatched into suitable biodegradable packaging and off he goes. Relief obvious on his jowly face."
Water off a Duck's Back
Except for the duck, the wedding is unremarkable. It’s a celebrity marriage, but all the usual things happen, and in more or less the correct order. The caterers are too early, and the flowers are late. The best man—who is not Rowan’s best man but the brother of the bride—pretends to lose the ring. Gloria has a last minute fight with her mother over her intention to honour, but not to obey in her wedding vows, and one of the bridesmaids eats too many chocolates and has to go home. It’s at the reception that things start to go seriously awry. And almost everything can be blamed, at least in the beginning, on a small, male mandarin duck. "The duck had been there since the early morning. Gloria told Rowan that she had seen it from her bedroom window. She’d woken early because the new wind-chimes in the Versailles potted orange trees had disturbed her. The duck had been swimming in lazy circles on the turquoise surface of the swimming pool and, apart from noting a pleasing splash of bright orange against dark aubergine that might have a place in a colour scheme somewhere in their new ranch house, she gave it not a moment’s more thought. This was a mistake ..."
"She recognises herself not with any rational sense, but with a pang of protective love for the three year old who grins at her from the living room wall." An unexpected twist in the closing frames of an old home movie sends Rose hurtling back to her childhood - a time and a place where no one else's parents were divorcing, and where stepmothers were as exotic as shop-bought cake. Revisiting her memories of glamorous part-time fathers and fortnightly treats, Rose unpicks the unspoken adult acrimony, and the childish confusion: "Each time they were returned to her with their bounty she was tight-lipped and unimpressed, flattening their ebullience to a shapeless guilt, their double bind of love and loyalty teaching them early to suppress their enthusiasm in her company." Dual Carriageway is about parents and children, and how complicated it all is.