Shows M

back in Liverpool and in need of a job, and what could be more natural than that Joe Casey's son should step in to his father's profession. Down on the docks, he soon runs into his old friend Maggie May. He doesn't seem at all taken aback when she tells him that she's on the game, and they arrange to go out to Norah Mulqueen's pub together that night. Maggie May is truly happy. The man she loves is back; now she has to make him love her as she loves him. Down on the docks Gang Three is unloading a ship while Cogger, their chief, is pulling a fix with another gang for a job swap which will give his gang the easy jobs and the others the opportunity to do some practised stealing from the cargo. It's all fair robbery in the Natural Struggle. Cogger, in pursuit of a bit of reflected glory, is also harassing Casey about the Union. He ought to take an active part, like his father. Casey has straightforward feelings, strong ones too, over things like injustice, but he has no intention of being a leader nor, particularly, anything like his father. It takes an accident to bring him out of his self-appointed silence. A crate is dropped from a crane, crushing a dock worker to death. It is not their mate's death, however, which rouses Casey's anger: it is the contents of the smashed crate. They have been loading guns on a phoney manifest. Guns for South America where, as Casey knows from his navy days, they will be used by the military to put down strikes and shoot down striking workers. He is walking off the job. Cogger is livid with him. This accident is something that the Union can flex its muscles over: if Casey won't do anything he will. He is going to run straight to Willie Morgan, the Union boss, and get him to take some action. Willie Morgan has just been on an all-expenses-paid trip to Rome in an abortive attempt to see the Pope and his reaction to the death of Georgie MacDowell is suitably sonorous and cliched as he puts on his chummy I'm-one-of-the-boys act for the benefit of the dockers. Casey has no time for him. He remembers Willie from years back, running along in Joe Casey's shadow picking about for a bit of glory and, before long, it becomes obvious to him that Willie knew all about the guns and the faked manifest. Willie is a practical man: the nature of the cargo isn't his problem as long as there's cargo to load. He can also see that young Casey will be trouble, not to mention a rival for his own nicely feather-bedded position, and he resolves to fix him. When Maggie May comes to join Casey for a drink, Morgan causes a scene with the landlady, accusing her of harbouring prostitutes and threatening to withdraw his classy custom. Casey stands up to Morgan. Maggie May's a better woman by far than the simpering little bit of crumpet clinging to Morgan's arms and she has plenty of friends on the docks and in the pub who are pleased to walk out of Norah Mulqueen's place and leave Morgan and his cronies to themselves. Casey doesn't want trouble. Too often trouble has found him without his seeking it. He hasn't any admiration for his father and what he did: he knows him as a mug and a loser who achieved nothing but a stupid death. He just wants a quiet life with a clean nose and a pint. He's got good mates and he's got Maggie May who's willing to give up the game for him and who dreams of a happy life. But on the day of Georgie's funeral the news comes that there are fifteen lorry loads of guns lining up to be loaded. All Georgie's Protestant friends are at the funeral: it'll be double time for Gang Three. And Willie Morgan's fixed it so that Casey doesn't have to load; he's been promoted to checker. Casey will not accept this subterfuge and, triumphantly, the boss ganger orders him to collect his cards for refusing to work. Casey agrees to go, but he is made an unwilling martyr when the rest of the gang, for motives ranging, from misguided friendship to solidarity in the cause of the Natural Struggle, announce that if he goes they will follow him off the job. Cogger immediately stirs up the other gangs. Casey's being sacked for refusing to load a blacked cargo. Joe Casey's son is being victimised and Willie Morgan is letting them bring in the troops to load the ships if the dockers refuse. Cogger is whipping up a walk-out and he's going to put Casey up as its figurehead. Maggie May tries to stop him, but Cogger crudely puts her down in front of the dockers and forces the situation to a point where Casey is lifted shoulder high and carried off, leaving Maggie May bitterly to rue his weakness and the unlikelihood of their ever finding that 'Land of Promises'.