The Norse knew the ash as yggdrasil and the strength of the world, they thought its roots were in hell and its high branches in heaven. The squirrels running up and down the tree were the messengers of the Gods. In his fabulous book on the folklore of British flora Ron Freethy, From Agar to Zenry, remarks how priests in the days of early Christianity would hunt red squirrels to prove the animal was not under the protection of false gods.
But you can imagine ash trees on this site stretching back to the last Ice Age. Shame they might all disappear soon in Britain due to the chalara fraxinea fungus or Ash die back (didn’t he play for Wales once?).
I often start tours from St Ann’s Square and I’ve been pointing out that native tree since the crisis in ash life expectancy was announced a few weeks ago. I like the fact it’s a self-seeder – I assume, no city authority would allow it to split the pavement like that. I’m going to do a Good, Standard, Ugly piece on it for Manchester Confidential, bring some attention to it, because we wouldn’t want it to be inadvertently felled would we?
My hope is that the city centre air with its car and bus exhausts and air con pollution and tall buildings will somehow wrap this ash in fungus unfriendly fumes. Make pollution a preserver. That would be somehow sweet.