In William Thacker’s second novel, Lingua Franca, the narrator, Miles Platting, awakes from a shipwreck, buried under rubble. He is rescued and transported to a hospital, where everyone communicates in silence, through handwritten notes and sign language. When he asks for the whereabouts of his wife, Kendal, he is handed a pen and told to write down everything he remembers, and so he reveals how he reached this unlikely point.
Miles is the founder of a naming rights agency, Lingua Franca, which enables towns across the UK to be renamed after corporate sponsors. Thus Milton Keynes has become Stella Artois and Southampton is Wagamama. Lingua Franca claims that sponsorship will reduce a town’s debt burden, attract investment and lower taxes.