The certificate read: ‘Having attained the age of ten years and having completed the crossing off the Cove, JUNIOR NASH is thereby deemed a member of the Cove Shivering Club and entitled to vote in the Presidential Election.’
If you swam naked across the Cove and back on any of the chill Good Fridays from 1950-57, you were entitled to be a member of the Cove Shivering Club whose rules were: you don’t piss in the water and you don’t bring a woman. After that, even if you were a ten-year-old boy, you were a man. But those simple rules prove hard to keep: an assertive woman breaks the all-male code – with hilarious consequences – and Junior ‘s best friend, Dunstan, deprived of a visit to the Cove and humiliated by a bank manager swears implacable opposition to the system. He vows to remorselessly ‘fuck the banks’. Junior never really gets to grips with women; Dunstan never gets to grips with credit. And the other members of the Cove Shivering Club – the scheming business operative Dessie, the bluff and loyal Budge and Tom, the slippery Tommy Ryan-O’Brien, Fathers Ab Sheehan and Dollars Mulcahy, English impresario Harry Lamb – end up in a farcical election minuet of their own, the votes swinging uncertainly from one side to the other. This novel is a brilliant confirmation of Michael Curtin’s wicked sense of humour and his deeply affectionate vision of the most human of moral frailties.