PHILIP Roe is in a pickle. Or should that be in a chilli?

We have never heard of a problem quite like it, and are counting on our ingenious band of readers to come to Mr Roe's rescue.

An ex merchant navy man now retired at Stamford Bridge, he worked on the Brocklebank Line of Calcutta Steamers travelling to East India. That left him "partial to a decent curry, always, but always, washed down with a 'chota peg' or two". (Chota peg is Anglo-Indian slang for a snifter, which is American slang for a drink).

We'll let Mr Roe recount the terrible trauma he suffered at home the other night in his own words.

"I'd prepared my curry, a Goan vindaloo. Anybody who has been East of Suez will confirm the following fact: vindaloo is a pork curry and not some outrageously hot concoction, as favoured by the lager-louts of this country, which has you wishing you had put a toilet-roll in the fridge the following morning!

"I laid out all the condiments and then went to the freezer to get the Greenalls Gin out for my chota peg, finding, to my horror, the screw-top had leaked and all my gin was in the bottom tray of the freezer.

"Unfortunately, to get into the bottom tray, the gin had percolated through an open dish of a rather pleasant keema matar (minced beef curry with peas), which I'd made a surfeit of a couple of curry-evenings ago and then frozen the surplus.

"I am now left with nearly a litre of Greenalls Gin, the colour of teak, with peas and other detritus floating about in it. Does any reader have any idea how I can restore the gin to its original pristine clarity and will the taste be irrevocably lost?"

We are no experts, but would guess some sort of filtering technique is required. Get in touch with the Diary if you can help.

If not, Mr Roe, forever the optimist, has a plan B. "I now have a strongly alcoholic keema matar, the consumption of which will kill two birds with one stone.

"I get my curry and the chota peg in one fell swoop!"

CONGRATULATIONS to York's own Ralph Ineson. He has landed most British actors' dream job - a part in Coronation Street.

Ralph, who once taught drama at York Sixth Form College, is now best known for playing the despicable Finchy in hit comedy The Office.

But according to reputable sources (all right, The Sun) he will play psychiatrist Zach in the classic soap.

As we are lamentably ill-informed on the Street's current storylines, we must quote from The Sun's TV column: "Tension mounts as he tries to help landlady Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay) recover from her abusive relationship with Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward)."

Ralph's in Weatherfield for a couple of months starting in August. Another triumph for the "big ugly lump from York" (his words, not ours...).

THE Diary hesitates to point out others' spelling slip-ups for fear of provoking another envelope containing Evening Press cuttings, with our own howlers underlined three times by an anonymous reader.

But we couldn't help but smile to read the press release from York College, about a talented student previously educated at Tadcaster Grammer School...

Updated: 08:52 Wednesday, July 06, 2005