Take a right at the Doors ... turn left at the Carpenters ...;

RICHARD SMITH

A farming community is trying to solve a mystery which has left a village swamped with road signs dedicated to pop stars.

It started when Tony Dale, a farmer, put up a makeshift warning sign saying "Mud" on the main road through Preston on Wye, near Hereford.

Soon after, another sign appeared near by bearing the word "Showaddywaddy" and during the past three weeks more than 30 home-made signs have sprouted on a mile-long stretch of road through the village (population 250).

They include a pair of jeans hanging from an oak tree with a sign saying "Swinging Blue Jeans"; a pile of sand, mixed with driftwood and pebbles bearing with the words "Sandie Shaw"; the lower half of a tailor's dummy wearing knickers and a pair of wellington boots, labelled "Nancy Sinatra"; a lavatory sprayed with the word "Loolu"; and a sign pointing to a field full of swedes which says "Abba". The caper even extends to a sign greeting motorists with the words "ELO and welcome to Preston".

Almost every day villagers wake to find new signs have sprung up but no one knows who is responsible.

"It all started because the farmer who put up the Mud sign didn't include the words 'on road'," said Mike Smith, a builder. "So some witty bugger stuck up a sign saying Showaddywaddy, who were Mud's rival band in the Seventies.

"Since then the signs have been getting more and more witty. The great thing about it is nobody knows who is behind it.

"Some people have said it's dangerous, because motorists are slowing down to read the signs. But this is the best traffic-calming measure Preston has ever had."

One of the prime suspects is a local councillor, Harry Hancox, 64, a retired BT engineer. "For some reason they keep blaming me but I'm definitely not guilty," he said.

"I think most people find it very amusing but I suspect the last act will be made by the police or the highway authority ordering the Move."

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