The Surgeon’s Tale is a novel set in the latter years of the Swinging Sixties, an age when a new generation became alive, released from the privations and rationing following the Second World War, fuelled by the introduction of rock’n’roll music played on both sides of the Atlantic.
They rebelled against the restraints of traditional parental authority, their clothing marking them out as a different generation – Mary Quant mini-skirts, hot pants and flowery frocks for the girls, while the men wore drainpipe trousers and Cuban heels and greasy duck’s arse hairstyles.
The pharmaceutical industry introduced reliable birth control in the form of the contraceptive pill, which allowed greater sexual freedom without the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. Even that could be resolved by suitably qualified doctors under aseptic conditions when the Abortion Act was passed by Parliament in 1967, rendering at a stroke the end of backstreet abortions and the appalling disease and deaths they caused.
This is a story about hospital life in those times, and the modern reader will surely be horrified by the change in attitude and behaviour among doctors over the past 60 years.
Political correctness had not yet arrived on the scene, and doctors on duty drank alcohol and smoked without any fear of criticism. Nurses, meanwhile, were not averse to a little sexual flirtation with junior hospital doctors who were forced to live in monk-like cells and be on-call every other night away from their home and family.