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Elton John World News: Great Friends, Great Britons

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Elton's got them

Monday 9 December 2002 @ 22:15 - GMT

A new survey claims the average Briton has 14 close friends. Music legend Elton John is a case in point, reported the Daily Record newspaper on December 2, 2002.

The UK's biggest social butterfly seems to have pals coming out of his ears, the newspaper said.

But it's no wonder. According to the findings of the British Social Attitudes survey, the richer you are, the more close friends you are expected to have. Experts explained the surprisingly high number is because we are now partying at home rather than in pubs and clubs. The rise of mobile phones and text messaging also makes it easier for people to keep in touch.

The survey showed 56 per cent of men have 10 or more friends, compared with 45 per cent of women, but men are less likely to have a "best friend". People with incomes of £35,000 were 25 per cent more likely to have at least 10 close friends compared to those earning less than £12,000.

Alison Park, of the National Centre for Social Research, said: "One of the traditional stereotypes has been that we (British) are rather inward looking and that we are perhaps not as sociable as other people."

This work suggests that in Britain, friends play a very important role in people's lives.

"If there's anyone in the UK who seems to have more friends than he needs, it's Elton John. The star is known to take young musical talent under his wing to help them come to terms with their increased wealth and status. Many become part of his trusted circle of friends who are invited to the A- list parties only people like multi-millionaire Elton can afford to throw.

So who are in Sir Elton's inner circle? Lover David Furnish is top of his list. They hit it off when Canadian David was invited to Elton's house for dinner nine years ago. Now every Saturday, wherever they are in the world, they still swap intimate cards expressing their love. Furnish is without doubt Elton's best friend.

Elton said: "It's essential for me to be with someone as creatively inspired as me and David is. We have long conversations about movies, books, films, records, art and photography. We have exactly the same interests."

They even share the same dress sense, with the pair known to wear identical outfits.

Elton is also close to some of the UK's biggest stars. He is proud to be a trusted confidant of Victoria and David Beckham, who asked him to be godfather to their first son Brooklyn.

Liz Hurley also asked Elton to be godfather to her son Damian. And where did she go when she "vanted to be alone" from the world after his birth? Why, Elton's Windsor home, of course. There she could get her figure back into shape before the cameras checked her out. Elton loves giving parties and one of the highlights is Oscars night, when he can name some of Tinseltown's biggest stars among his best mates.

He and Liz Taylor are both committed to raising money to fight Aids and with Judy Garland one of gay men's biggest icons, it's no wonder Elton can claim her daughter Liza Minnelli as a pal.

Donatella Versace got to know Elton through her brother Gianni. The fashion designer's death devastated the singer as did those of another close pal Diana, Princess of Wales, and his late producer Gus Dudgeon.

Naturally, Elton has friends in the music business. He took singer George Michael under his wing when Wham! split and the pair have remained chums.

He also counts Lulu and Rod Stewart as long-standing friends.Elton never forgets the people who've helped him stay at the top. This year, he was the best man at Sony Music head Gary Farrow's wedding to This Morning presenter Jane Moore.

And, of course, there's Bernie Taupin. The man who crafted some of the most beautiful lyrics in the world has stayed Elton's right- hand man through 30 years.

But it's not all big names. Janet Street-Porter is a long-standing friend. She said: "We're friends because we're the same age."Another pal is artist Sam Taylor-Wood, who said: "When it comes to shopping, he's the best girlfriend you could have."He's very caring and has the wickedest sense of humour. He's been so famous for so long, but when you're with him, he's very relaxed."