A few years ago, Tony Alleyne's marriage broke down. In search of solace, Tony turned to his love of science fiction. Star Trek was particularly good at helping him cope, so much so that he transformed his flat into a replica of the Starship Enterprise. Home Truths reporter, Lesley Hilton visited Tony's starbase in Hinkley Leicestershire...
"Welcome to the 24th century," announces, not Tony, but his doorbell. It was as well for Lesley to be warned that as she walked through the front door, she would transported to another time zone.
From the famous Star Trek transporter, "It does actually work," claims Tony, "We could beam off down the pub", to the miniature version of the warp coil which powers the starship, the studio apartment is beautifully transformed into a scale replica of The Enterprise. Lesley is stunned by the kitchen, but mildly surprised that Tony's still got something so old-fashioned. "I did have a washing machine," admits Tony "And cooker, but the flat needed to look more spacious - so I got rid of it. My ex-wife does my washing now."
Lesley asks why Tony chose to do this to help him get over his break up. "When I found out my wife was seeing someone else I was devastated. I could only see darkness ahead. I think I started it out of sheer madness - then I began to enjoy it," he explains.
Out of work at the time, with very little money to spare, it seems a strange project for Tony to take on. "So, how did it help you?" Lesley wants to know. "It was therapeutic, " replies Tony, "It made me feel I was worth something. It was something I could do without failing. I couldn't afford to make a mistake, so I'd take time. The concentration required helped me. When I'd finished, a metamorphosis must have occurred - I just felt a lot better."
Tony's mum June, visiting the flat for the first time is amazed by her forty-eight-year old son's endeavours. She still finds it hard to talk about how ill Tony was after his marriage failed, but when Lesley asks if she thinks the flat is Tony's escape from reality, June is positive, "It's helped him because it's focussed his mind on something positive. We all try to escape from reality at times, I've done that myself."
Tony himself is aware that his obsession with science fiction and Star Trek may be an avoidance of reality, "You can lose yourself in it," he agrees. I've taken it a stage further - I want to be in that environment a bit longer." His flat, Lesley points out is isolated and almost womb-like with its absence of windows. Will he be able to go out and face the world? "No," says Tony, quickly followed by a "Yes! I've got my feet on the ground now. Although in the evenings I put the lights on and fly through space at warp speed!"
Tony hopes to turn his work into a business venture, but even if this doesn't come about, he's positive it helped him recover from the failure of his marriage, "For the first time in my life no-one else is controlling what I do. I am responsible for and I make the decisions. I feel I've got a purpose now."
Lesley asks a final question, "If you met a woman you liked would she feel she couldn't possibly compete with the flat?"
"If she's into Star Trek and good with her drill, she'll be all right!" answers Tony.