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  • Rob


So a few weeks into lockdown I stumbled across a tweet by some utter Gwendolyn saying “by the end of this yo need a new plan for yo business and a side hustle to keep that cash ro-ro-rollin” (I’m paraphrasing slightly to make what was actually written comprehensible to anyone who finished school).

At the time I scoffed, who has time to create a ‘side hustle’, I’ve worked all through lockdown so the last thing I want to do is give myself something else to do. I recognise the delicious irony of me smirking at that dopey melt on the pages of my newly created website, which got me thinking have I actually been creating a side hustle without thinking about it (this site says I have), and could I use my new skills to pay the bills?

Things I’ve done over lockdown:

1 Changed the battery on my watch...

With nowhere open, I was forced to work out how to change the battery on my G-Shock watch, ensuring it didn’t explode into a million bits and that it was still watertight afterwards. As I have fingers like sausages and the patience of a fat kid in Greggs it was quite a challenge I can tell you. Add to my physical and character flaws that I didn’t have the right tools and you can understand why the watch nearly ended up in the recycle bin along with the hundreds of cans of tonic water (that is another story).

After an hour of swearing and sweating, I eventually replaced the battery and put the whole thing back together. So far so good, it is working and certainly splash-proof (I haven’t got the stones to lash it in the bath to see if it is completely sealed though).

Potential Side Hustle Rating: 2/10 - I simply haven’t got the dexterity or patience to fart around with tiny screws, fiddly plastic gaskets and diddy batteries regularly. Props to the people who do this for a living, I have a newfound respect for you.

2 Changed the stylus on my turntable...

I was more bullish about this as I changed the needle on my beautiful record player a year ago. I was side-grading to a similarly specced stylus, but this one came from Rega who manufactured the turntable so was a straightforward replacement (Is side-grading an actual thing? I know you can upgrade and downgrade but can you side-grade? Replace something with a similar quality rating?)

I knew what to do, had the tools and, most importantly, the experience so this was going to be a breeze. Erm…not quite. It seems that the last time I had the thing in bits I had used my Thor-like strength to tighten some screws so much that no man could remove them. Thankfully Ms L was on hand to make me look a right tit by undoing them for me. My pride was hurt as much as my sausage fingers.

Once everything was disconnected there was the fiddly job of carefully disconnecting four tiny wires, undoing two tiny screws, removing a fiddly stylus then repeating the process in reverse with the new unit. It is a task that takes a steady hand and patience, as alluded to earlier I have fat hands and the patience of a pensioner trying to get on a bus. After 2 hours of open stylus surgery, I eventually had everything installed.

So, how did it sound? In a word, crap! The record was skipping and it sounded like the songs were playing too slow. Turns out the problems were all self-made, it hadn’t tidied the little cables enough so they were dragging on the record and I’d forgotten to return a tiny ballbearing to the lower sub-assembly when I put everything back. After fixing these issues everything works like a dream.

Potential Side Hustle Rating: 5/10 - I reckon I could do this again, in fact, I’ll no doubt put myself through the same torture in 12 months when I fiddle with my set up again for no good reason.

3 Bake my own bread...

I’ve always fancied making my own bread but I haven’t got the patience to do it by hand (there is a pattern forming here, isn’t there?) and Ms L wouldn’t let me buy a bread maker - apparently “we have enough shite cluttering up our worktops as it is” without more gadgets we barely use (omelette maker anyone?)

I eventually wore the boss down only to find there were no bread makers available in Britain. I’m not joking, there were zero available in the whole country. I started phoning companies who said there were out of stock on the off chance they might have some under the counter, you know like the special sausages in The League of Gentlemen.

My persistence paid off when I had a chat with a lovely man from South Wales. His website said they had no stock, he confirmed this but said he had just received a delivery and would check on the van to see if there was a bread maker in amongst the chest freezers, bowl mixers and Breville Toastie Makers. Hallelujah, he had one! Not the one I wanted though but at least I could get my sausage fingers on a machine!

The machine arrived and I didn’t waste any time completely cocking up a loaf. How hard can it be to make a loaf in a bread machine? Very if you don’t weigh the ingredients out correctly, use stale yeast and keep opening the lid every 5 minutes to see if it is done. The second attempt was much better, I quadruple checked everything and left the machine to do the do, the result was a glorious loaf which had me squealing like a Japanese schoolgirl at a One Direction gig. Since then it has been win after win after win.

Potential Side Hustle Rating: 8/10 - I make a loaf each week for either mine or Ms L’s family already, I have made loaves for our friends, I’ve used a loaf as a gift to say thanks to a friend for picking some bits up from the shop when they were out so I’m on the cusp of a hustle as it is!

4 Be a Quiz Master...

Since COVID hit, a group of colleagues and friends have had a weekly quiz each Saturday night with a few drinks. We have gone from Houseparty to Zoom, from a pad and paper to PowerPoint presentations, from written to picture and music rounds. It has evolved quite quickly and is probably the highlight of the week, I know that it kept me sane in the first couple of months of lockdown.

It is difficult to come up with something fresh for the group but we have used some sideways thinking to change it up (sound clips and pictures via WhatsApp, Mastermind where everyone picked their own subject, two complete quizzes using the Bullseye board game!) There have been rounds on everything from James Bond Top Trumps, guessing if a name is a nail varnish colour or a skin flick (‘Porn or Polish’ - surprisingly hard to tell to be honest) to betting on the outcome of a mad, animated Japanese horse race.

I have hosted the quiz a few times and have hosted a post-quiz quiz a few more when the questions didn’t last as long as the drunkards did! It is a real responsibility, you are charged with providing the entertainment for everyone for the evening. Some friends have said that the quiz was the only time they spoke to people outside of their house all week, you can’t cock that up!

Make the quiz too easy or too hard and people lose interest, make it too niche and people won’t be bothered to play properly, it is a really fine line.

Potential Side Hustle Rating: 6/10 - As soon as we decided to have a regular quiz I had a plan to host it with a good friend, Mr R. I dived straight into it, learning about OBS so we could broadcast over the internet, upgrading my hardware to cope with the extra demand and planning themes for each week. Lockdown has lasted longer than anyone thought so it is on the back burner for now, possibly in the future, watch this space.


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