Having just finished reading Howard Jacobson's very disappointing, supposedly funny The Finkler Question, I picked up Antic Hay in a secondhand bookshop on holiday and found it a brilliant, highly humorous read. Perhaps the gulf in class between the two books, made Antic Hay - a satire that describes the hedonistic, directionless lives of a group of upperclass twits in 1920s London - shine out by comparison. The protagonist, Gumbril is a hopeless fellow who gives up teaching history to devote himself to making money, by means of developing "comfort" trousers with blow-up rubber tubes in the seat. In order to woo women he takes to wearing a stick-on beard, turning himself from Mild and Melancholy, as he sees himself, into The Complete Man, with a greatcoat and a floppy-rimmed hat. Meanwhile, Mrs Viveash is a feckless sort with an annual income and the ability to make almost every man she meets fall for her, including Gumbril, a comically untalented abstract artist (who rails against the world and seems to believe that success is a right, despite endless stinking reviews), and a doctor busy with mad Nazi-like experiments working in a strange lab at a hospital. They carouse about in taxis and drink too much, occasionally consorting with the working-class (usully to pay a fare or buy a bottle) and feeling totally disassociated with them. Although this short (250 page) book is a satire of the 1920s, it struck me - what with all the David Camerons, George Osbornes and the coterie of Etonites who seem to run things, and expect to run them, in Britain these days - that it's also pretty much of relevance now. There are aspects of the book that hint of the Brave New World to come, particularly the mad doctor. Huxley's breadth of language is extraordinary and the book is in places laugh out loud.