Procol Harum

the Pale

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Christmas Quizzes 2020–2021

Participants' Feedback ... thanks, all

You Bastard!

Playing this year has been especially fun because not only has the quiz been the most exciting thing I've done in 2020, it's the only event that has remained consistent in a world of uncertainty.

10/10 would recommend!

Happy New Year!

It started on a cold, dark night in North Carolina. In the midst of an otherwise tranquil time, it came, like an electronic harbinger of digital doom.

The Christmas Conundrums.

The laughter and excitement of our three wonderful grandsons had given way to our own feelings of excitement and, yes – a hint of dread, as the ominous e-mail from afar appeared to announce that the night had come: puzzle number one was nigh. I could barely suppress a shudder as I momentarily wondered if the fact that my grandsons’ names, in order, started with initials A, B, and C ... did this have any connection with the Conundrums? The Lovely Carina, seeing signs of an existential dread in my expression, assured me that all would be well, and that we could continue working on the mystery when we would arrive back in New York.

And so we did.

You folks at ‘Beyond the Pale’ really do have a diabolical streak in you. The eight-hour drive home was fuelled by a partially-masochistic desire to torture ourselves with the expected misdirection, teasing, and Procol Harum dumpster-diving.

You came through in spades.

Thank you for another great edition of the traditional Christmas Conundrums. Nothing better than try to solve every day the daily quizzes you prepare when in Italy it is 1 am., when in my house the only lights switched on are upon my Christmas tree, my nativity scene (a very nice Italian tradition created by Saint Francis of Assisi) and my small Christmas village ... obviously drinking a hot herbal tea with ginger, lemon and honey or sometimes hot chocolate or vin brulé.

This year I'm happy more than usual to have solved (I think) the enigma because yesterday night I was at the hospital with some problems about my blood pressure but my only idea was to come back home quickly to find the last clue and give you the answer, and I think and hope this helped me to overcome my situation, in fact now I'm back home, and it seems that it was only a false alarm, fortunately!!

‘Beyond the Pale’ and The Christmas Conundrums are curative!

Have a good 2021! For you and all Procolers all around the world!

Very happy to have win a prize, more than happy... I feel triumphant! Particularly happy this year for the reasons I explained in my previous email ...

I don’t know how do you do, but every year you improve your ability and (almost) every year I fall in your little traps ... but thank God I saw a glimpse of light when, talking with my beloved Mariarosa, I thought that a song by Brooker-Reid not necessarily should be a Procol song ... a big ciao from me to you and every PH fan all around the world, it will be great meet you in 2021 at a gig (we hope) or, at least, more or less in 350 day, when we will receive the first clue of 2021 Christmas Conundrums’ edition.

Thank you Roland I really hope to see you soon, a happy 2021 to you, your family and your friends.

Thanks for the yearly dose of light-hearted fun; we can certainly use some of that these days.

Congratulations to all the winners ... and commiserations to all my fellow commiseratees!

I did notice the musical score in the background and googled the notes (I can read only bass clef) to see if they provided any clue However I didn't attempt to play them anywhere – I was just wondering if they might have given the initials of something significant.

Regarding this year’s quiz, the questions – bar one that required judgment, rather than factual information – weren’t particularly difficult, although some of those, which seemed to suggest outright answers, were, of course, misleading, yet figuring these out required going, well, beyond the pale.

But the competition part upon the completion of the questions turned out to be quite nervous as I felt other contestants were working on the last answer at the same time.

Still, I loved all of it.

About my experience of playing: I had not the time to solve a quiz each day, so I actually did it all at once on the afternoon and part of the evening of 4 January, so in the end I was kind of exhausted, but I don’t think the quizzes were too difficult.

Of course I am used by now and I am prepared to have some twists and turns at the end of the game ...

The trickiest yet. 36 questions must be a record!

[About the scrapbook snippets] I had speculated that some combination of computer wizardry and obsession with language was involved in this marvelous scheme. It was actually fun reading those evocative (‘period typography’-enhanced) snippets of fleeting daily life, crooked reporting and all! My best New Year wishes to you, too, and in hopes that BtP will continue (is that redundant?) to enlighten and amuse us in 2021.

I did my best and those guys who got it all out in (say) an hour or less were doing pretty well indeed; I salute them.

Best clue in twenty years in this event: the drummer with middle name 'James' being Bill Eyden! (I got that at the last minute when Bill Eyden came up in a scrapbook title,  and cursed your ingenuity at the time)

I was so happy to find out that I was among the contest winners. I hadn’t participated over the last couple of years because I was involved in my out-of-town holiday gathering with friends and just didn’t have the time to devote to your challenging puzzles.

Of course, none of our group did any traveling this year so I was free to jump in and work my brain with your questions.

Your Christmas puzzles are maddening, frustrating and supremely enjoyable fun. I am always amazed at the twists and turns that we encounter in our quest to get to the final answer.

And, as you say, we really do learn much more every year about this wonderful band that we all admire and love.

Triumphant! Was the way I felt as I read your e-mail…

I found this year’s model more amusing than ever. I knew that the Mystery Scrapbook had something to do with ‘The Final Thrust’, but I could not figure out what was in there. Not until the final clipping, where Robin Trower was plain to see. After participating for more than twenty years, I have no more fear of
letter-counting and the solution came rather smoothly (after I got Bill Eyden in place from the scrapbook).

Congratulations on a shrewd and clever composition !

Let’s hope ’21 is going to be a good year.

The puzzles were saving me from shutdown boredom and never mind about not winning a prize…, it was already a triumph to solve them! Many thanks for the yearly challenge!

Once again, huge thanks for creating a devilishly convoluted conundrum to keep us busy over the twelve nights. It must have kept you extremely busy during the various 2020 lockdowns.

I found it plain sailing until the final instructions when brain and fingers went into overdrive. I am still kicking myself for failing to spot the band member names in the scrapbook headlines; it seems so obvious now !

Especially after I had picked up that, each day, one of the answers was a Procol band member.

The dropped hint regarding GB’s solo works did at least help in the final session once I had solved the anagram and I was able to jump straight to the required track.

You cunning chaps did a great job again. The highlight of an otherwise eminently forgettable year !

Take care and stay safe.

It was great fun to solve the riddles (as always). I am looking forward to next Christmas ...

Cheers !

Very good news!

This is the first time I have won. I really enjoyed the competition this year; indeed it was a key element in my Covid Christmas. It required an ideal mix of basic Procol knowledge, detection, analytical skills and persistence.

When I saw the questions each day my usual reaction was that I almost certainly knew the answer to one, would probably find the answer to the second but had no earthly chance with the third.

Each time, though, I had all the answers after about 10–15 minutes of interesting exploration. Some bizarre facts were revealed along the way; and I particularly enjoyed reading the story of PH’s accountant from 1967

Although I have been visiting the website regularly for nearly twenty years now (I sent in some recollections of remembered gigs back in June 2002), this has been the first year that I have felt able to set aside the time to try to solve the Christmas Conundrums. For this, we probably have to recognise a positive aspect of the pandemic, in that I have had far fewer time- and date-specific commitments than would normally be the case.

Accordingly, I have been able to regularly find the time to indulge in searching the dustier corners of the website and revisiting some of the more regularly-thumbed pages to find/confirm the 36 little nuggets of information to enable me to then locate – in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning – the required one-word solution.

It has been an enjoyable experience and one which I intend to repeat at Christmas 2021, whatever my post-pandemic commitments might be, and I would encourage others to join me in a time of Procoholic over-indulgence.

Next week will mark the fiftieth anniversary of my first – and failed – attempt at seeing and hearing Procol Harum live (a cancelled gig at Manchester University, 16 January 1971), but I shall console myself by basking in the smug glow of knowing that I have won a prize in 2021.

My thanks to you both – and your glamorous assistant(s) – for all that you do in maintaining the wonderful website and, if you have the opportunity, please pass on my grateful thanks to the Commander and his crew for providing the soundtrack to my life since 1967.

Having participated in the Christmas puzzles only for the last couple of years, to me it has already become a tradition and a cosy Christmas occupation to solve these quizzes during Christmas while listening to my old and new Procol Harum records :)

It is indeed a time-consuming job to participate, but as you write, we participants come out knowing a lot more trivia and details than when we went in, digging into music history, lyrics, liner notes etc., and so it is a rewarding process.

It was fun with small detours to other artists, like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, putting things into a more general time perspective.

Finally I think it was a very good idea to save the ‘key’ to processing the twelve answers until the final night, no one being able to see through the solution in advance.

Thanks for a great Christmas puzzle and stay safe!

I wrote in my earlier feedback that I saw immediately it was "No More Fear of Flying" after writing down the letters.

I like to add to that, that to my amazement and hilarity of my wife that this Friday after sending in the solution on Tuesday, it hit me that the letters I found added up to "GEOFFREY NORMAL INFO".

I saw this when on Friday afternoon we were having our lunch and just looked at the paper again with all the scribbled letters. I really had no idea that it was an anagram, I just thought it were separate letters. You guys are certainly into anagrams!

I do enjoy these little trickeries in the conundrums and the way you have lead us poor fans to the solution of this Christmas's entertainment.

Thank you for this entertaining set of puzzles. After twelve times three simple questions, finally a difficult question. Took me some hours to find it. But I enjoyed, especially knowing that you tried to find the culprit that did send all those newspaper clippings with the seemingly urgent calls in "What’s new?"

Anagrams are very difficult sometimes for me, having a non-English mother-tongue; ‘Enter Girly Icon’ troubled me but ‘Beg me, bite me, horny me, suit me groovy’ and the letters retrieved from the answers with the PH code hit me instantly. You tend to naturally associate it with words from your own language. Then I rehearsed with Pointless and House of Games. (‘Answer Smash’ was helpful in deciphering the snippets!).

Again, the devil was in the detail, I did not expect anything less from you.

As always you prepared it very well and I appreciate the comedy/humour that goes with it and the apparent fun you have before sending the conundrums into this world.

With BtP you are always in for a surprise. And it was a real fox hunt, with you sometimes throwing me off the scent with such findings as the drummer’s middle name ‘James’.

Anyway all the best in 2021 for you both and BtP.

Once again, despite my rantings, it was fun (frustrating fun - but fun, nonetheless), and we want again say 'thank you' for the diversion!

Well, I am at least consoled by the fact that I am sure NOBODY came remotely close to getting the answer based upon the "habitual clues in the wording."

I can at least feel like I was beaten out (by four minutes!) fair and square by some sharper and quicker conventional puzzle solvers.

I hereby update my feedback: "You Sadistic Bastard!"

The fab prizes | Back to the how-to-play page for the 2020 'Beyond the Pale' Christmas puzzles | The prizewinners

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