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Joker of the old school

Letters

Professor Sir Alan Harris, who died on Boxing Day (News last week), is remembered with great affection by those of us who worked on the staff of NCE in the 1980s and early 90s.

It was plain 'Alan' to the editorial team. The handle 'Professor, Sir' was used sparingly by this brilliantly irreverent old mickey taker.

Alan often contributed to the magazine, both with articles for publication and with inimitable handwritten notes giving us first hand insight to events and people of his time.

Here was a man who had been through the hideous business of the Second World War at the sharp end in the RE's; was a world expert on prestressed concrete; founded a major consultancy; and became a professor at Imperial College.

Despite that he still had a youthful sparkle of fun in his unpatched eye and always had time for chat: 'How are you old boy, ' he would begin in a charmingly conspiratorial way.

Alan wrote many pieces for the magazine. All were in his distinctive style of a spoken anecdote, rules of grammar ignored. But these texts were pure Alan Harris - telling lively tales and poking fun at the pompous. If it had been anyone else we would probably have ruthlessly subbed them. As it was we rarely touched a word.

How sad that there will be no more.

Mike Winney, editor emeritus, New Civil Engineer magazine , mikewinney@meadowside.com

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