I have whistle envy. You know, the kind of piercing whistle that takes a finger or two just so at the mouth and a certain intent expression? You can stamp your feet and clap as loud as you want for an encore from your favourite band but a "Whoo!" or a "Yeah!" doesn't cut the air like whistles do.
My dad has a whistle like that. Some kids knew it was time to head for home when the street lights came on but for us Dad's whistle at any time of day meant back to base in ten minutes "or else". We free ranged all over the backyards of our small town suburb. There were yards we felt free to cut through and yards we only ever skirted the edges of. The old lady over the back had no time for us so we jumped the fence on the other side.
In teams we would take turns to tie each other up like Joan of Arc to the posts under the house. Once escaped, we would chase and capture the other team and the next round began. We set bounds by number of yards so there was a chance of finding each other before boredom set in.
Up the top of the street bare blocks led down towards the Botanic Gardens that we treated as an extension of our own backyard. The playground was full of equipment that would never pass health and safety now but took us to the limits of our inventiveness. I don't know what the few parents actually supervising their children thought of us, as we never stopped long enough to find out.
We rode our bikes wherever we wanted to go. Back then bike brakes were a matter of pushing hard backwards on your pedals. This made for excellent skids but not always the quickest of stops. Once I went flying down the footpath and kept going right across the intersection, only stopping when my wheel hit the gutter and I flipped onto the grass.
My brother had a BMX and he raced me up the street so furiously he ran straight up the back of a parked panel van and just about knocked himself out. His excuse was it was dusk and falling dark. I was scared then but we both laugh our heads off about it now. We had headlights that ran on a dynamo powered by the friction of the turning wheel. They were useless if you were coasting and next to useless even when you were pedalling hard.