What do you get when a former ad man and church organ creator collaborate? Incredibly detailed pinball machines/coffee tables like The Shuttle. Painstakingly built by Andras Lacfi and Erno Balogh of Budapest studio Altar Furniture, it has little surprises Star Trek fans will recognise, like the three lit “Dilithium crystals” and four real meteorites lodged in its rear. Website www.oitars.co
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We sailed across the Sulu Sea and the Sea of Japan and the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea and the Java Sea and along the edge of the Pacific Ocean and across the Indian Ocean. Nine months hard. I arrived home for 40 days leave. I was burnt brown, toughened, eyes wide open. I had worked day upon day upon day of hard, hard labour, cramming in my studies between it all, living alongside the casual brutality and routine violence, the drinking, the carnality, the times when I was stunned and blurred by lack of sleep. It changed me, but did not change me into a brutish person, because alongside all of that was the joy and the wonder; all the beautiful things. These things changed me more: the never-ending blue so-deep water; the flying fish skittering across the surface of the sea; the nights when I slept on the boat deck because it was too hot inside, lying on my back watching shooting stars streak across the velvet diamond-studded night sky; the nights when I leant on the rails and watched the dark sea fold back from the ship like molten black toffee; the mornings when everything was yellow, a creeping of yellow light, lemon-yellow cloud, banana-yellow skies, shattered yellowed sea; the evenings when the sunsets were explosions of red and orange, vivid and stark, like a punch; the bright hot days in the centre of the watery earth, no ships in sight, just the Vexilla and sometimes some dolphins to help us on our way, light breeze on my bare back as I spliced rope with the casab on the main deck. Of all these things, most of all I loved being on a yellow sea under the yellow sky in the early morning. I felt I was an alien, now I was home, as far removed from all around me as if I had two heads. I was 17-and-a-half years old.
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