• Michael Noctor

Big Coat Weather

From August '16 to September '20 I sometimes lay my head down in houses in Melbourne, Malaga, Dublin and Galway. The houses were not mine. I didn't have a house. Sometimes I lay my head down in my Honda Civic, Esperanza. By 'sometimes' I mean eight hundred and forty nights. When you live and sleep in a car for eight hundred and forty nights you give your car a name. Esperanza is one of my favourite names; it's a Spanish name and it means Hope.

Esperanza taking in the view from Ferrybank campsite in Wexford.

(Sadly, Espe passed in April '21).

I have used the word 'homeless' in the title of this Facebook page. The truth is I never considered myself as homeless. I had a roof over my head. To me, a man or woman who sleeps in a doorway on Grafton St. is homeless. I saw myself as a Vagabond, even though the definition of Vagabond mentions having no home. I was a Cosmopolitan Vagabond, in my eyes. Not many saw it that way. I remember one of my loved ones telling me I was homeless. 'You're homeless,' she said. I didn't say anything. She said it again, more forcefully. I nodded. I could feel her need to label me. I didn't see the point in telling her I was a Cosmopolitan Vagabond, In fact, I was a Vagabundo - the Spanish connection during my time living in the car was strong and in many ways kept me going; more about that some other time.

Tonight as I made my way home - I now live in a beautiful studio apartment, they used to be called bedsits but that name wouldn't do justice to my wonderful modern home - I was thinking that it is Big Coat Weather. I had gone for a walk last night wearing my big coat. It made me think about living in my car. I was very lucky when it came to autumn and winter. The weather was always mild. When we had the crazy snow in 2018 I was in Spain. Gracias a Dios, as the Spaniards say.

I loved the dark evenings. It meant I could go to my spot early. I liked to go to my spot when it was dark and leave next morning before it got bright. I used that spot for almost the entire eight hundred and forty nights. I used to wonder did any of the residents/neighbours know I was there. My spot was in the estate I'd grown up in and five hundred yards from my former family home.

I wrote a book about a man living in his car during this time. It's called Four Wheels & a Pillow. It was endorsed by Roddy Doyle. When Roddy messaged me to tell me he'd give me a quote and permission to use his name on the cover I dropped to my knees and wept. I was in my sister's kitchen, I was alone at the time, I couldn't have dropped to my knees in the car.

You can read more about that here and you can buy the book here

I've gone on longer than I had intended.

Peace out


(I used to be homeless, kinda, but I'm alright now)