Procol Harum

the Pale

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

Christmas Quizzes 2019–2020

How to play • How to win

Puzzle now closed

In characteristic Scandinavian fashion 'Beyond the Pale' – whose home is in Norway – will mark Christmas by running yet another twelve days'-worth of little Procol Harum quizzes. In 1997 it was anagrams, in 1998 it was clues about the songs, in 1999 the questions were based on the Procolesque obsession with The Truth; in 2000 it was a treasure-hunt in the pages of BtP; in 2001 the emphasis was on 'lucky thirteen'; in 2002 we looked at all the Procol albums so far; in 2003 the amazing Procol journeys of Hans Teutiger provided our theme; in 2004 guest Paler John Annable from Melbourne took us on a cryptic tour of the Keith Reid songbook, and he supplied 2005's anagrammatic conundrums as well; in 2006 it was an album-oriented puzzle; in 2007 it was all about cover-versions; in 2008 we toyed with the alphabetical ingredients of song-titles; in 2009 the theme was sound-clips from the excellent Salvo Reissue series and in 2010 we were back with Keith Reid's words; whereas in 2011 the theme was The Truth. In 2012 we focused on the happenings and announcements of the year, and for 2013 and for 2014 it was a miscellany. In 2015 we returned to the time-honoured matter of the albums themselves; 2016 saw our first Procol Wordsearch; 2017 commemorated the band's fiftieth year, and 2018 was fun with song-titles.

The 2019 puzzles start on 25 December and run for twelve nights; the last question in the series will be dated 5 January 2020 and will be posted as close as we can to Midnight GMT on the night in question ... that is, it will appear to you in the first few moments of 5 January. At that point, once you've cracked the twelfth puzzle, follow the link to the simple, final instruction advising you how to 'process' your findings. You'll be using them to discover a very brief and tiny answer – which you'll then send to ‘Beyond the Pale’.

You can join in at any time, if you have a pencil, paper and an internet connection. Best to play on your PC or laptop ... could get eyestrain if you try to do it on a phone.

This year's game involves discovering twelve past gigs (all referred to in the pages of 'Beyond the Pale'), then determining which is the odd-one-out. The answer you'll e-mail to us will be extremely brief ... as usual, there will be an explanation in our final page of the series, on 5 January 2020

Each day's puzzle will start with a string of words ... for example


Read on to find out how these six words imply, or encode, four places in the world ... where BtP readers will shortly be searching for evidence of musical activity from Procol Harum musicians.

First of all, check out (and read about it on Wikipedia).

What3words is a 'geocode system'; boffins in London have notionally chopped up the entire surface of the world into three-metre squares, and given each square a unique three-word reference.

This is useful because, unlike other systems (grid-references, GPS co-ordinates etc) it doesn't involve long strings of numbers or anything hard to remember.

It's also far more useful for recreational purposes. For example, as our screenshot (right) attests, long.gone.geek is a three-metre square somewhere in Northern India, near Kanpur (apt spot for a – rather small – Palers' Convention, no?)

You'll need to zoom out, from the map on the site, in order to find some place-names. Try it! The zoom controls are at the bottom-right corner of the map screen on your browser.

It's all straightforward stuff.

So we're going to offer you six words nightly – for example hopefully.follow.puzzle.instructions.involve.merriment

First, here's how to interpret those six words. You'll treat them as four groups of three, as follows ... we've used colour to make the four 'trios' perfectly clear.

hopefully.follow.puzzle instructions.involve.merriment

hopefully.follow.puzzle.instructions involve.merriment

hopefully.follow.puzzle.instructions.involve merriment


You won't need any other permutation of the six-word string ... just the four consecutive trios of words. Note that there's no full-stop ('period') after the third word in each geocode trio.

To understand what these four groups of three words mean, cut'n'paste each trio (one at a time) into the search field at (Their website, slightly unhelpfully, offers you close variants as well – maybe one or two letters different from the wording in this puzzle. Ignore these variants ... they'll land you in the wrong places!)

You'll end up on a map-grid, and you will want to zoom out until you can see enough wording and other map-info to orient yourself, using the controls at the bottom-right corner of the map screen.

Despite what you might expect, you'll find that the four places are far apart: hopefully.follow.puzzle is in Devon, UK; follow.puzzle.instructions is somewhere in Oxford, Alabama; puzzle.instructions.involve is in Australia's Northern Territory and instructions.involve.merriment is plonk in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Thus each evening's puzzle offers you four locations, encoded by the WhatThreeWords system.

And the puzzle-page asks you to identify which ONE of the four locations witnessed a performance by Procol Harum, or a member of the band. You'll use the resources of 'Beyond the Pale' (and probably also Google) to find out the truth.

You'll find common-sense a great help as well: in general desert locations, high mountains or trackless wildernesses can probably be ruled out.

Let's say one evening's three-word clues, copied into WhatThreeWords, have left you with four locations: The North Pole / Ledreborg DK / Central Park NY / Bristol UK

Type Ledreborg (or Bristol etc etc) into Google, and you'll quickly find out – from the Procol-heavy pages at 'Beyond the Pale' – that the band has played in three of the four places; and in some of those places, they've played more than once. (You'll get the most accurate and useful answers by using Google to search . Searching other music websites is not likely to bring you the level of detail you need, in order to make progress.)

So which particular show is the evening's target destination?

Helpfully each page has a little table like the one below ... four additional clues (different each night!), comprising three truthful specimens and one nonsensical one.

For example ...

Four ancillary clues, of which (only) one is nonsensical


This concert took place on a Sunday, and shared its setlist exactly with the previous evening's show


This concert was aborted when marauding apes set fire to the drum-kit


The organist at this concert didn't play on any of the original recordings of the songs involved


This concert involved a symphony orchestra and choir

Once you've Googled a bit ( marauding apes_, symphonic gigs_, and so on)  and done some exploratory link-browsing through 'Beyond the Pale' – you'll have figured out the implications of the three sensible clues, and found that they all 'point towards' or confirm one of the locations you derived from the trio of 'geocode' words ... namely, in this case, Ledreborg in 2006.

Just a teeny little word or two of warning ... don't jump too quickly to conclusions about the four ancillary clues. What looks daft might be true; and equally, what looks true might be misleading. This is Procol Harum we're talking about, after all.

Each evening you'll make a careful note to identify the concert and some key particulars – so that, at the end, you can quickly find your way back to the BtP page where the concert is logged.

People who choose not to keep notes as the puzzle progresses will be at a disadvantage at the end.

Then on the final night there will be a straightforward thirteenth clue, which will greatly assist you in finding which concert is the odd-one-out, and tell you how to convey your findings to the 'Beyond the Pale' team. And how to make yourself eligible for a Procol prize!

When you send in your answer, be sure to include your prize preference – "my prize preferences are LOINDAMPER, or RANDOMPILE, or whatever". List the key letter associate with the prize you most favour, follow it with your second choice, and so on until the last letter, representing the item you covet least avidly. Take care to send all ten letters ... without all ten, we can't count you as a potential winner.

We shall allot the first three prizes on a beat-the-clock basis, where the earliest correct response earns its first choice of prize and so on; after that all subsequent correct entries received in the next 48 hours will be placed in the BtP Homburg and the remaining prize-winners will be drawn by a suitably Glamorous Assistant, all being well.

In the somewhat unlikely event of there being fewer than a dozen winners, the first people to submit correct answers will get more than their fair share of the prizes!

Over the past years we've had one or two non-winners who claimed, 'You guys tricked me …' so here's fair warning … just read the final instruction – indeed, all the wording of all the questions, and all the instructions – carefully.

The fab prizes | The first puzzle

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home