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Donkin's World: Car Silencer

Richard Donkin tells the delicious tale of a car fitted with a special button designed to deal with naughty boys.

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James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 was sold at auction for 2.6m. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/28/james-bond-aston-martin-auction I sat in it once, more than 40 years ago. I doubt very much the new owner will be letting any grubby urchins near its steering wheel today. But that's what happened when the car was doing a tour of motor dealers in the 1960s to promote one of the Bond films.

It came to Graham's Garage on Bradford Road in Batley for a few days, and since the garage was not far from where my Auntie Joyce lived, I went down there with my cousin Andrew to have a look at it. I don't suppose the showroom manager was too thrilled at seeing a couple of eight-year-olds in short pants and scuffed shoes climbing all over the interior, but we were with my Auntie Joyce and nobody argued with Auntie Joyce.

I had a Corgie die-cast model of the car. My favourite feature was the ejector seat. I must have remembered all this when many years later I had children of my own. When the boys were young we had a series of Volvo cars. They were roomy estates and cruised up and down the motorways, ideal for a family with push chairs, bikes and the like.

John was our first born. He would sit in a booster seat with Robert beside him. I would tell them stories on our longer journeys. I also explained the features of the car - the automatic drive, the radio controls, the heated window, the lights, oh and that button near the steering column. This was a special button, I said, and it was not to be pressed by anyone except in the most extreme circumstances.

"What is it daddy?" asked John.

"It's the ejector seat button."

"What's it for?"

"It's a special button for naughty boys. If you're being noisy in the back I can push that button and your seat, with you in it, will be ejected through the roof, and then there'd be no more John."

"Oh!"

I never smoked, but that cigarette lighter was without doubt the most useful control in the car. If Volvo had written in its sales brochures that the model came fitted with a "child silencer" I'm sure they would have sold more cars. Ideally the button could have been made slightly larger and coloured red. Mothercare take note.

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