Procol Harum

the Pale

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BtP's late-summer Prog Prize Competition 2012

Triumphant Victors ... and the answer

First in, shortly after the midnight when we unveiled the final puzzle, was Basil Steven-Fountain; and the four names from the BtP Homburg were Barrie Foister, Phillip George, Maurice Atkinson and Bert Saraco. If those competitors would like to send us their 'real' world addresses (even if think BtP already has them) we'll forward the inof to our kind friends at Esoteric and Cherry Red, and a trove of fine prog music will eventually be delivered to them.

Well done ... and commiserations to all the other competitors who sent in correct answers, but whose names remained in the hat on this occasion.

Obviously the competition followed the usual BtP tradition of giving away the answer from the outset, so it's no surprise that most of the entries we received were correct. Each page was emblazoned with the legend 'Thanks, Douglas' – and if that didn't make readers think of arch-Procol fan Douglas Adams, then surely the instruction to send 'The Ultimate Answer' must have made everyone think of '42', from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book III) (see here).

'42' was indeed the answer, and the legitimate route to it was as follows:


Question 1



Mineral Man

‘What keeps me going are these nerves of steel’

What steely body-part keeps the Mineral Man going?

Question 2



Symphathy for the
Hard of Hearing

‘There were sounds of battle that assailed his ears

The word ‘assailed’ isn’t often heard in popular song, but then again not so many popular songs deal with deafness. What was ‘assailed’ on this album?

Question 3



Symphathy for the
Hard of Hearing

‘… for four long years / The Allies came / to liberate …’

Who came to liberate after four long years?


Question 4



Another Way

‘My temper's boiling like a thermal mire / My heart is burning like a forest fire for you

For whom is my temper ‘boiling like a thermal mire’?

Question 5



The Angler

‘But simple stories make longer tales’

Fishermen are prone to exaggeration. Simple stories make _________ tales

Question 6



Hang On Rose

‘They saw her floating from the wreck
Clutching something round her neck’

Was it a noose, was it a necklace? Clutching something ____ her neck.


Question 7



Another Way

‘You’re just my cup of gruel’

Brooker takes a very familiar English saying, about a very familiar English drink, and changes the contents to ‘gruel’. What is the receptacle from which he will drink this unpalatable refreshment?

Question 8


The Cycle

Rain is falling all around’

One of the most memorable bouts of wordplay on the album comes when Brooker echoes the names of two angling rivers (‘Usk and Wye’) with ‘Ask me why’. What is the first word of the song in which this happens?

Question 9



Mineral Man

‘I'm a mineral man / stuck here in the can /
till I oxidise

One of the songs on the album contains numerous puns likely to appeal to an audience of metallurgists. What is the three-syllable synonym Brooker uses instead of ‘rust’?

Question 10


The Angler

‘The search is over, the battle done’


The search is over … the ____ done

The initial letters of the ten answer-words (in red, above) could be re-arranged to form a word that Gary sings on the album: 'Barleycorn'. The final letters could be re-arranged to form another ten-letter word, 'Suspenders'. The former word comes from  The Cycle (track-number 5) and the latter from Low-Flying Birds
(track-number 8).

If you add up the track-numbers of all the songs on the Esoteric re-issue of the album you get 55; subtract the track-numbers of the songs in which those two ten-letter words occur (5 and 8) you get 'the ultimate answer' ... 42. Simple!


Puzzle prizes | Brooker song-words How to play

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