There had to be a way. I tried to shake my head clear and take some more deep breaths. I steadied my pace. I thought very carefully about words and how you made them. I checked my tongue and tested my throat. I had to pull myself together. I had to communicate. I looked round as we crossed a road; I saw the sign for Union Street where it was fixed to a low wall. I turned to Jamie and then the girl, cleared my throat and said quite clearly: ‘I didn’t know if you two ever shared – or, indeed, still do share, for that matter, for all that I know, at least mutually between yourselves but at any rate not including me – the misconception I once perchanced to place upon the words contained upon yonder sign, but it is a fact that I thought the “union” referred to in said nomenclature delineated an association of working people, and it did seem to me at the time to be quite a socialist thing for the town fathers to call a street; it struck me that all was not yet lost as regards the prospects for a possible peace or at the very least a cease-fire in the class war if such acknowledgements of the worth of trade unions could find their way on to such a venerable and important thoroughfare’s sign, but I must admit I was disabused of this sadly over-optimistic notion when my father – God rest his sense of humour – informed me that it was the then recently confirmed union of the English and Scottish parliaments the local worthies – in common with hundreds of other town councils throughout what had until that point been and independent realm – were celebrating with such solemnity and permanence, doubtless with a view to the opportunities for profit which this early form of takeover bid offered.’
The girl looked at Jamie. ‘Dud he say sumhin er?’
‘I thought he was just clearing his throat,’ said Jamie.
Iain Banks, Abacus 2013 (Original release: Macmillan London 1984)