Publisher: Legend Press | Publication date: 16th May 2016
Lingua Franca is absurdly original. This stunning book uses the power of words to make or break the world of farcical logic. One particular man’s world, to be precise.
Determined businessman, Miles Platting, finds himself in a hospital bed where the only treatment he is receiving is silence. While he is grateful for being rescued from the sea, he doesn’t understand why no one is speaking and the only word that is exchanged is the written one. To a man who uses verbal communication to his advantage this current situation is frustrating.
Through the odd note passed between the nurses and Miles, we discover how our survivor came to be in the water in the first place and hope to learn where the rest of his companions are. This is how we begin to understand the significance of Lingua Franca, the brainchild of Miles Platting. He is the co-owner of the company that uses no nonsense pressure selling techniques to convince town councils across the UK that it’s in their best interest to abandon their centuries old native place name and adopt a new one. Their existing name will be replaced by a corporate sponsor’s brand, who in exchange will provide continual investment to rejuvenate their tired town. Simples.
Lingua Franca never stands still. There are targets to meet, quinoa to eat, and cities to be matched with something you can find in your freezer. After an agreement is reached, a ceremony akin to a welcoming committee for an alien invasion allows ‘team Linga Franca’ to descend on the town and christen it by its newly sponsored brand name. Their customer relations’ exercise includes replacing all signage to completely erase the old name, while provoking the locals with their elitist wisdom.
Alas, no matter what ‘benefits’ they could reap some towns are just not ready to embrace change, unlike Stella Artois, formally known as Milton Keynes, home of Miles and his cat, Ptolemy. Disapproval can range from mild heckling to organised vegetable hurling – and these good people are not alone. Also madly opposed to Lingua Franca’s morals is Kendal, his wife, not the town. She’s passionate about English language and can’t comprehend why anyone would want to taint thousands of years of heritage with an advertising gimmick. There are frequent opportunities for some stealthy one-upmanship to support their individual cases throughout the book!
The shallow reasoning for his actions, and the aftershocks from the suicide of his most successful employee, begin to erode Miles’ high ground to reveal the message that perhaps it’s not the UK’s place names that needs to change.
Lingua Franca doesn’t waste a single word, and I highly recommend every one of them.
(My thanks to Lucy Chamberlain of Legend Press for providing a paperback copy of this fascinating book for review.)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
There’s a problem with Barrow, but it can be fixed. You just need to change the name to Birdseye. Birdseye-in-Furness…
Miles Platting is pulled from the ruins of a shipwreck into a world in which no one will speak to him. The founder of Lingua Franca – a naming rights agency committed to renaming every UK town after a corporate sponsor – Miles recounts the story of his quest for linguistic supremacy to anyone who’ll listen. Confined to his hospital bed in a deathly quiet ward, Miles seeks to find his colleagues and reunite with his true love. But in doing so, Miles must confront his deepest held convictions and consider, what’s in a name? in a world where the spoken word has been replaced with silence.
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Author and scriptwriter William Thacker was born in London in 1986. His debut novel, Charm Offensive, was published by Legend Press in 2014. As a screenwriter, William co-wrote the short film, Full Time, winner of the Best Film award at the 2014 Shanghai International Film Festival. He is also the co-writer behind Steven, the feature-length Morrissey biopic currently in development. Lingua Franca is his second novel.