Learning to count to sixteen

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We were never clear what to do with the days. They were stunted grunts of days anyway, because we woke around lunchtime. We would eat, then my friend would go to the pool while I read a book about the history of beer.

So we decided to go for a lesson one afternoon. Our teacher spoke like you might expect a detached house with a kitchen garden in Henley-on-Thames to speak, cruising through her introductory remarks as the sea breeze gently beat on her sail of a dress.

“The important thing is to count to sixteen,” she explained. “All records can be broken up into sixteens.” Then she demonstrated counting as she played through some of her funk house collection. We took turns at beat-matching and mixing. It was too short.

Despite some music training as a child, I had never heard about counting to sixteen. It made the records speak clearly. I could parse them like our grandparents were taught to parse text.

That evening, my friend and I were in a sticky-floored bar when the DJ played Love Story by Layo & Bushwacka. We turned to each other. “One-two-three-four…”

The rhythm of Ibiza, the pulse of sunset cafes, bars and super-clubs, had a new way of counting.

Summer turns to autumn, and one crisp Saturday I was stood on the Tottenham Court Road holding a huge box, standing out. A stripe of a man with creosote teeth and wide eyes approached. “I live near here,” he suggested. “You can bring that to my place and I can set it up and show you how to use it,” he suggested through a lupine smile.

“Nah, mate. It’s alright,” I replied. “I already know how to count to sixteen.”


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