Stuck in a dentist’s waiting room one morning during the summer of 1962, I read a long article in the New Yorker by Rachel Carson summarising the argument that would shortly appear in her bestseller Silent Spring. Since the magazine was best known for its humour, I naively assumed that her apocalyptic-sounding alert about the ecological catastrophe being caused by the spread of pesticides was a spoof. It was, of course, a ground-breaking exposé of mankind’s rape of Mother Nature, who may now indeed be taking her revenge in the shape of fire, flood and pestilence. David Kynaston describes Carson’s classic as a ‘semi-sacred’ text, exemplifying the kind of change that took place between June and October 1962, when, he says, Britain was ‘on the cusp of the “real” 1960s’.
Whether a snapshot of this brief period can bear out such an ambitious thesis is a moot point. Can one really see the dawn of a new era in the Beatles’ first hit, ‘Love Me Do’, the initial James Bond film, Dr No, the launch of global television