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Ivor.Gurney.net involved in 
Crossword Puzzle Intrigue

Wednesday, November 8th.  Early Evening, Greenwich Mean Time:

In the tiny village of Beachampton in North Buckinghamshire, England (population around 150 excluding cats, dogs, sheep, cattle, poultry and pigs), a certain Diane “Di” Franklin began a quest on the Internet for the answer to a crossword puzzle on behalf of the Quizmaster of her local quiz league.  He had completed the whole crossword apart from one question.

The clue, 6 down: "Poem by Hilaire Belloc in the 1923 volume Sonnets and Verse which has been set to music by John Rayner, Ivor Gurney and Peter Warlock (8,4)."

The quizzes in question are held in the local village pub “The Bell Inn.”  When Steve, the Quizmaster, inquired of Diane whether she knew the answer to the above clue she rashly said she would find it on the Internet (though admitting to being “a complete novice at this particular mode of investigation and communication!”). 

One half hour later, GMT:

Ms. Franklin reports that after surfing through Hilaire Belloc websites to no avail, she suddenly had the brainwave of looking for the musicians.  After putting all three through various search engines, she discovered the website for Ivor.Gurney.net

She sent an email.

Thirty-six minutes later, 1:41 a.m., U.S. Central Time:

In the obscure town of Huntsville, Alabama (population 175,458 excluding various Saturn rockets, and assorted International Space Station parts), the Ivor.Gurney.net website editor Dr. David Kenneth Smith was seeking diversion from the whip-lash television reporting of the muddle of the American election returns, and received an interesting email.

After consulting a song database compiled during the research of his dissertation on the songs of English poet-composer Ivor Gurney, and visiting the Lied and Song Texts Page maintained by webmaster Emily Ezust, it was determined that:

Gurney set three Belloc poems:

Ha'nacker Mill
Most Holy Night
West Sussex Drinking Song

    Of them, 
Peter Warlock (Philip Arnold Heseltine, 1894-1930) set
   Ha’nacker Mill and Most Holy Night
Of them, John Rayner (or Raynor, 1909-1970) set 
   West Sussex Drinking Song.

The response was sent via return email.

Thursday, November 9, 4:08 p.m., GMT, Beachampton:

A surprised Ms. Franklin writes in part: “I was very excited to receive a reply so quickly and from Alabama!! . . . I can now hold my head up in the local community. . . !  It was fun! I have become aware of the potential of the net and I may become famous with my name on Ivor Gurney's website!  Also, I now know who to contact should further crossword clues of a more specialist musical variety appear!”

The Aftermath. . .

Ms. Franklin reports further that “having told Steve the answer to his clue (which will, incidentally, net him £750 if his entry is the first pulled out of the bag) I was quite put out when he said that if he won he would buy her a glass of wine!  Last of the big spenders!”

Apparently, Ha’nacker Mill was the correct crossword answer.  Presumably, John Rayner (or Raynor) also set the poem.

It remains to be seen whether Quizmaster Steve was awarded the prize.  Ivor.Gurney.net lawyers are investigating the possibility of lawsuits to recover reference charges and a substantial portion of the winnings.

[No representation is made that Ivor.Gurney.net will answer all inquiries within thirty-six minutes.  Responses are granted based on interest, ability to answer, and need for diversion from muddlesome elections.]


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