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Words: Tardis, n.

IN A woodyard (more shelves), a builder was on a mobile and, in giving directions to a job, used a portable lavatory - "the Tardis" - as a landmark. I remarked that, so far as I knew, no lavatory is visible aboard that telephone-box - perhaps biology has made a striking advance.

None of the warringly topical dictionaries include this word, close on 40 years old. It is also used by estate agents for a place that might look a cupboard but is an ideal venue for any amount of cat-swinging. Not a conscious pun on tardy, Tardis is an acronym for time and relative distance in space. Perhaps tomorrow's BBC2 Dr Who evening will expand that. Meanwhile those blue boxes have vanished - as if somebody had uttered the dread syllables: "Ex-ter-min-ate!"