Life & Culture

I’ve got a fan — if only she’d answer

Peter Rosengard reads about imaginary friends - and talks to a fake cat


Wood mouse in front of a white background

Thursday 5pm

I get my day’s exercise walking up the 40 stairs to my second floor flat.

A masked man is standing outside my door.

“You nearly gave me a heart attack! Who are you?”

“ I am the mouse man,” he says.

“I just finished de -mousing the first floor flat.”

“Find any mice ?”

“ Clean as a whistle,” he says.


Friday evening. 8.15pm

The phone rings. I know it can’t be a client — I sell life insurance, people only call me when they’re dead.

“It is Rosenquist.”

“It is Rosengard,” I reply.

Peter Rosenquist is a Finnish friend and, like every Finn I’ve ever met, a man of few words..

I talk non-stop for 30 minutes,

“Every five minutes Rosenquist please can you cough so I know we’ve not been cut off… or you’ve died.”

I tell him everything that Rosengard has been doing during the six months since we last spoke, ending on, “Rosenquist I have a mouse in the house. What have you being doing, Rosenquist ?”

“I got married, Rosengard.”

“Who to?” I ask.

“The harbourmaster” he says. “Lisa, my girlfriend, she is the harbourmaster, Rosengard.”


Saturday 1pm

Over lunch I tell my American friend Morty about my quiet Finnish friend Rosenquist.

“When I was at college,” he says, “I shared a room with a Finnish student. He never once said a single word for six months until one morning at breakfast he said, ‘We need more toilet paper.’’’

“Amazing… and what did he say after that?” I ask.

‘“Nothing, not another word for the next six months until he moved out. Your friend Rosenquist sounds like a real chatterbox.”


Sunday evening. 6.15pm

 As I put my key in the door I am greeted by a loud “ meow”.

Six months ago my cat Xerxes went to live with my daughter. I now have a fake cat.

My sister bought the fake cat on Amazon — aka an “emotional support animal companion”— for our mother when she was in her 90s. When Mum died I inherited the fake cat.

I sit down and ask. “How was your day?”

It meows: “I am fine.”


Monday 10.15am

 After ten years of writing this column I receive my first fan mail.

There is a woman’s name and a phone number. I call the number. No reply.


Wednesday 7.30 am

Over breakfast I read a headline in the New York Times, ‘When Grown-Ups Have Imaginary Friends’. Amanda writes about her ‘parasocial relationship’ a ‘one-sided relationship where a person extends emotional energy and time, with a TV reality show star who is completely unaware of your existence.

“That’s crazy! Can you believe it? People are having imaginary friendships!” I say to the fake cat.

“Meow, that’s really weird,” it replies.


Wednesday 6.30 pm

I phone my best friend, Lev.

“Lev, you do know don’t you that your best friend is that one person you can call when you’re stuck on a cliff face at 5.30am holding on by your finger tips…inches from certain death and you know they will immediately drop everything to come and rescue you. You do know that you are that friend Lev, don’t you ?”

There’s a pause.

“Could you try and make it 8.30am?” he asks.


Thursday 2.15pm

I call my only fan’s number again: no reply.


Thursday 6pm

The door bell rings. An Amazon delivery. He hands me a parcel. Inside there’s a 10 inch long glass tube with a trapdoor at one end, closed at the other end .

I have no idea what it is. I ask Alexa to read the instructions which are in Chinese and discover it is a humane mousetrap.

It is from Rosenquist from his island off Helsinki.


Friday 8.45am

l I am in a breakfast meeting when an email pings on my iPhone . I glance at it quickly

‘“Clean as a whistle” it says. “My prostate MRI result!” I say over the scrambled eggs to my guest. “Great.Thanks for sharing that with me,” he says, putting a forkful of egg into his mouth

11.25am I call my fan’s number. No reply.

I think I have a fake fan.

11:.30 pm. In bed I go through the day’s emails again.

I now see that the ‘Clean as a whistle’ email is from my dental hygienist.


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