On the off chance that England don’t win, or, God forbid, don’t even do well in this year’s football World Cup, one recent news item could help bring the nation some cheer. A renowned expert in geotechnical engineering at Imperial College, Professor John Burland CBE FREng FRS is to be awarded the 2006 Public Promotion of Engineering Medal for straightening the leaning tower of Pisa. He was enlisted to the international committee formed in 1990 to save the tower, which was slowly toppling over. The project lasted eleven years, and involved the carefully calculated excavation of 30 tonnes of soil from the foundations. It was overseen by Professor Burland who produced a day-by-day analysis of the tower’s subsequent position. He explained: “At the angle it was, we couldn’t even get the tower to stand up on our computer model. That shows just how close to falling over it really was.” The Pisa Tower was straightened by a full 45 centimetres and should remain standing for another 400 years. In recognition of his services he was awarded Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Francis I Italy, an extremely rare honour for a UK national. This accolade sits alongside other eminent awards including Gold Medals from the World Federation of Engineering Organisations, the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers. He may even be offered a job teaching left-wing politicians how to lean just that little bit further to the right, without falling over.