Dr Stephen Woodward, of Aberdeen University, warns that privet, while itself showing no symptoms of the dreaded dieback, might be spreading the disease when its leaves fall.

He recommends that we inspect their leaves closely for incriminating signs, such as black spots on the underside; for these could well develop into deadly spores. “We need people to watch out for the unusual,” he says. And if we do find anything suspicious, we should bury the leaves to stop any spores from being blown into the vicinity of vulnerable ash trees.

The snag is that privets are evergreen, so their leaves are falling all the time.