Martin Millar, 37, is the author of several 'post-punk' novels. He lives in Brixton, south London.

THERE are no curtains in my bedroom because my girlfriend left me and she used to do everything like putting up shelves and curtains.

But I've got some blankets over the windows and they cut down the traffic noise a bit. I've got main roads on two sides of my flat and there are always sirens going off. I find traffic noise very comforting at night, though. It reminds we of my granny's house in Glasgow when I was a child.

I spend a lot of time in my bed. It's a good comfy one with a tartan bedspread. It's the only place I can read without straining my neck, and I take an afternoon nap which is my reward for making enough money from my writing now not to have to work. I never get up in the morning before 11.30. My bedroom is usually a shambles, but I tidied it up for your arrival. Disorder makes me feel at ease if I'm alone, embarrassed if I'm not.

I prefer the night to the day and always stay up very late. Darkness is more peaceful and I don't like sunshine - it hurts my eyes. When I used to live in more communal circumstances I had to wait until everyone had gone to bed before I had the peace to write, and I still find I can get on with my writing much better at night.

It's also important for me to go out at night. I like going to pubs, gigs, clubs, festivals, and I write about what I see. Recently I've started to feel more like an observer than a participant, and some people claim to be not pleased because they think they're in my books. But it doesn't affect my life. I've still got the same friends.

Brixton can be quite dangerous at night - I've been mugged twice - but it's my home and I feel much safer on the streets than in the country. I went to Dorset a couple of weeks ago and couldn't sleep. I was scared of the silence, of the trees, by how many stars there actually are . . . and of horses, which are amazingly big.

One of the things I do worry about is that I'll get too old to want to go out. But I'm comforted because I can see that all the people who were young in punk days have just moved forward into a New Age lifestyle.

Until recently the first thing I did when I woke up was rush to the mirror in dismay. Now I just walk past without looking because I know it would be bad news. I was much prettier when I was a youth, but I never got anywhere with women then. Now I'm older and my writing's more successful, it's much easier. I don't always sleep alone and that makes up for the bags and wrinkles.

But the thing about sex is that it's not a great event - it's something that just happens. I had so many good stories about dreadful, grim, drunken sex that I decided to write about them. That's why Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving is much more explicit than anything I've written before. But the English language isn't very well suited to the task - there are no good words for 'penis' or the female equivalent.

I never sleep before 4am and usually play Sonic the Hedgehog computer games before bed. I like Sonic - he reminds me of Happy, my hamster that died. I used to stay up and watch Happy.

If I'm alone I start planning the future as soon as I get into bed. I set myself targets for the next day, which is OK because I don't have too high expectations. I noticed a while ago how a lot of quite inspired people have all these projects which disappear in a dope haze, and I find it frustrating. I always do what I say I'm going to do, which is one of my best points.

Just before sleep I read. I like Elizabethan playwrights and the Greek classics. I often try very hard to dream that I'm carousing and stuff with Ben Jonson, or watching Peace by Aristophanes in ancient Athens, but I never do. I inevitably dream I'm in the pub talking to my friends, which is comforting but very down to earth.

I'm always struck by how little things have changed. When Alcibiades wanted to pick up Socrates in 421 BC he invited him round, got him drunk and said: 'Oh, it's getting late, you'd better stay now.' I use the same tactics myself all the time, and sometimes they even work.

Martin Millar's latest book, 'Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving', is published by 4th Estate at pounds 5.99.

(Photograph omitted)

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