Gladys Furnish was startled when the phone rang in the middle of the night last week. It was 2 a.m. and she was sound asleep in her Scarborough home. It was a long-distance call and she immediately thought of her children. “It scared us,” says the woman poised to become the world’s most famous mother-in-law.
The midnight caller in fact was a Glasgow reporter, according to The Star, who wanted to speak with the parents of David, the man who will tie the knot with Sir Elton tomorrow.
The ever-polite, publicity shy mom answered a few of the reporter’s questions, then tried to fall back asleep.
“I’ve learned to take this kind of stuff in stride,” says Gladys, attempting to strike a balance between her instincts to be politely forthcoming and her appreciation for the confidential nature of the coming nuptials.
David’s parents Jackie and Gladys rarely speak publicly about their son and his star-studded life. The film-maker has two brothers, John and Peter. And as the story goes, when David came out to his parents it was a double-whammy. In one breath he announced he was gay. And he was living with the Grammy winner.
Gladys says she is reluctant to appear on television and avoids most media attention because of “the grandchildren. We want to protect the privacy of the younger ones.”
There is so much secrecy surrounding the civil ceremony and the lavish reception that Gladys is mum on many details, including the dates the retired couple and other family members will leave for London and what her son and John will wear on the big day.
Even her “mother-of-the-er … bride?” outfit is not on record. She will allow, however that the dress is “a gift,” (perhaps from one of Elton’s famous fashion designer friends.) Parts of her outfit, she qualifies, were “purchased from retailers in Toronto.”
While Gladys is reluctant to expose details about the events next week, she is effusive about her affection for her new son-in-law.
“He’s a lovely man. He’s a good person. They’re a good pair. And they do a lot of good for other people. He has been nothing but good to our family. We all really get along.”
She is also happy to report that she and her husband Jackie get on famously with the entertainer’s parents. “We have similar backgrounds. My family’s Irish and my husband’s family are from Wales and England. We have vacationed together and it was a lot of fun.”
Gladys says their life in Scarborough has “generally been unchanged,” though she and her spouse have had the opportunity to meet many of their son’s famous new friends.
Elton and his partner met at a dinner party in 1993 and from day one the two have led a charmed life with lavish homes around the world, luxury cars, more than 20 dogs and an enormous staff. Last year, the Sunday Mail reported that Elton has bequeathed David a vast majority of his $400 million fortune. At the time he said “he would get married `tomorrow’ if it would help David avoid punitive death duties.”
Despite their enormous wealth, there has been very little chatter, if any, about a pre-nup. They have said publicly that they likely will not adopt children, mostly because of Elton’s age 58.
But there’s no argument that the boy from Scarberia has ”married well.” From the dull outskirts of Toronto to the flamboyant ruffles of international high society, David, it seems, has met his match.
He has documented his beau’s explosive meltdowns in a film called Tantrums and Tiaras and isgodfather to Elizabeth Hurley‘s son as well as one of Victoria and David Beckham‘s children. And he was invited to the wedding of Charles and Camilla even though Elton could not attend. The highest profile gay couple in the world told The Sunday Times they admire Madonna‘s low-key marriage to Guy Ritchie, marvelling that there are no public images of their wedding day.
And it has been widely reported that they have turned down as much as $10 million (U.S.) from an American television station, even if the money went to EJAF.
After an intimate ceremony at the Guildhall Windsor Register Office
, the same venue as the Charles
nuptials (The Church of England
is refusing to bless such partnerships), 700 close friends will join the newlyweds at their mansion for a lavish evening reception.
Tim Blanks, host of Fashion File and contributing editor of Toronto’s Fashion magazine, lives in London and confirms he will attend the party. But he’s short on details. “They’re keeping it very under wraps,” he said. “We’re just going to show up and see. I’m sure it’s going to be a very impressive event.” And Tim also admits he has “no idea what anyone will be wearing. It will all be a wonderful surprise.”
That the festivities will be over-the-top is a given. After all, the couple’s appetite for spending has been described as “full-blooded.”
As for Mrs. Furnish, she says she’s “looking forward” to seeing them all again this Wednesday in the receiving line.