Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy: Iron Lady or Milk Snatcher?

Baroness Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Baroness Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain’s only ever female Prime Minister and quite possibly the strongest post-War Prime Minister, passed away this morning. Behind her, she left a British society which will never forget her, so profound was her impact upon it.

Furthermore, her death proved to be just as divisive in public opinion as her time spent in public office (on a separate note, judging by some of the things said about her on twitter you could be led to believe that half of the United Kingdom were conceived, born and bred in the coal mines such was the bandwagon of abuse). On the one hand, there are Thatcher advocates who hail her as a Great Briton, Britain’s saviour and a champion of “British values”. However, if you are from the North of Britain or heavily affiliate yourself with the left-wing of the political spectrum, chances are you regard her as a merciless woman who terrorised the working-class due to her dismantling of the trade unions.

Being only 20 years old, I am in no true position to profess any substantial views on her. What I asked at the family dinner table this evening, however, was “what was Britain like before Thatcher?”. According to my parents, the 70’s was riddled with power-cuts, three day weeks, streets littered with bin-bags (uncollected because the binmen were often on strike) and statements that Britain was the “sick country of Europe” (when the Iron Curtain in Eastern Bloc was still drawn!)

Whatever you think of her, her legacy is clear to me: a hard-as-nails woman who never compromised her values and made people proud to be British (those who were around at the time will fondly tell you of the time we pummeled Argentina into subsmission in 1982). A person with unflinching moral principles is hard to come by these days so I think Thatcher must be significantly lauded on this front.

A (true) story of what happened during a of hers visit to the SAS has always made me laugh. The SAS has a mock-up building in Hereford called the “Killing House” to practise close-quarter combat and anti-hostage drills with live rounds. On this particular visit, Thatcher and her two aides (one called George) posed as hostages, as was custom for when high-profile men and women visited this establishment. As the SAS burst into the room of the “Killing House” they were sat in whizzing live bullets past them, her two aides threw themselves to the floor in panic and fear. Maggie’s reaction? She didn’t flinch, looked down at George and loudly told him, “Get up, George! You’re embarassing me.” She always lived up to her moniker, The Iron Lady!

Great Britain lost someone very special today, a colourful character worthy of everyone’s utmost respect, even those staunch enemies of hers on the opposite benches in the House of Commons.

So was Thatcher a saviour or butcher of our society? You’ll get mixed answers depending on whom you ask, I personally believe she was a force for good (emphasis on the force) and did everything in her power to push Britain in the direction of development and what was best for the country. Her death leaves a simple but sad irony: she’s gone, we need more people like her, but there will be very very few more people like her such was her uniqueness.

Goodbye, Maggie. The world won’t be the same without you.

 

 

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Undefeated 49-0: The Brockton Blockbuster

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Standing at 5′ 10″ and with a wingspan of 67″, on paper Rocky Marciano should never have been a contender. He became history’s only World Heavyweight Champion to retire undefeated.

“I can’t sing and I can’t dance” -Marciano on why he took up boxing.

Rocky Marciano (born Rocco Francis Marchegiano) was born into an Italian immigrant family in a stable, working-class neighbourhood in Brockton, Massachusetts. With his mild manners, white skin and soft diction, Marciano is quite possibly the biggest misfit in the history of the World Heavyweight Championship.

Throughout his youth, Marciano learned and developed the values and virtues that cemented his legacy in the history of the sweet science. Marciano gained the reputation of a hard grafter who was never afraid to roll his sleeves up in High School due to the grit and determination he showed in the first two sporting loves of his life: baseball and American football. His love of baseball proved a little too much when he was expelled from the school baseball team for joining a church league.

Surprisingly, it seems the only contact Marciano had with the sport of boxing in his adolescence was with the heavybag he made out of a stuffed mail bag and hung in his back garden.

“In the ring, I never really knew fear.”

Having worked as a manual labourer and a shoemaker since dropping out of school at the age of 16, Marciano was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 for a term of two years. During this time, it was his job to ship supplies to the Allies in France across the English Channel.  More importantly, when World War II came to a close and shortly before his discharge, Marciano began an amateur boxing career winning the 1946 Amateur Armed Forces Boxing Tournament.

The Rock made his professional boxing debut at the Valley Arena, Massachusetts on 17th March 1947, knocking Lee Epperson out in the 3rd round. Despite this first successful bout, Marciano decided to try out for a professional baseball team. However, after being cut from the team in the 3rd week of training, Rocky joined the professional boxing ranks for good and thus paved the way for a stellar career.

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Under the tutelage of the legendary Charley Goldman, Rocky Marciano’s pugilistic skills were honed.

“Why waltz with a guy for ten rounds if you can knock him out in one?”

Almost as soon as his professional career began, Rocky Marciano trained under the guidance of revered trainer, Charley Goldman. Absorbing his wise words like a sponge, the once clumsy and uncoordinated Marciano was sculpted into well-balanced fighter with knockout power in both hands. The fact that he won his first sixteen bouts inside the scheduled distance is testament to this.

In addition, drawing on his athletic background and his knowledge that the boxing gods did not bless him with the physical gifts to help him in the heavyweight division, Marciano quickly gained the reputation as the hardest working fighter most had ever seen.

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Most punishing and toughest training regime to grace boxing?

Rocky Marciano’s training camps were quite simply worlds of pain. First of all, Marciano ran long distances every morning of the year, including Christmas Day, in the week before a fight he would run around fifteen miles each morning. Often, he would pummel a 300lb heavybag for up to an hour, strengthen his muscles with 1000’s of bodyweight exercises and practise throwing punches under water so as to generate more power from his comparatively small frame. Marciano’s legendary trainer, Goldman, became the first man to use pads as a training method so that Rocky’s once inaccurate fists would home in on any opponent’s chin.

As a result, whenever Marciano stepped in the ring, any given opponent could expect nothing less than relentless, overwhelming pressure as soon as the first bell tolled. If you watch any Marciano fight reel, a number of attributes become apparent, even to the casual observer: Rocky had the heart of a lion, the punching power of a mule and, most importantly, incredible will to win. With constant and consistent training, dieting and learning from his legendary trainer religiously, Marciano became recognised as a genuine contender and dangerously powerful foe. This was cemented when he knocked out Rex Layne (a 5/9 betting favourite) in the second round on 12th July 1951 at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of boxing.

Marciano's journey to the heavyweight title involved fighting his hero, former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis.

Marciano’s journey to the heavyweight title involved fighting his hero, former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis.

Having amassed a record of 37-0 (32 KO’s), Rocky Marciano entered the ring in Madison Square Garden on 26th October 1951 standing opposite the legendary former champion Joe Louis. Despite the fact Louis was thirty-seven years old and was clearly not the fighter he once was, Louis was at the end of a strong comeback during which he had only lost one fight to the skilful veteran, Ezzard Charles. Marciano started strong and really made Joe Louis finally look his age. The ferocity and the relentless pressure from Marciano proved too much for Louis who was stopped (for only the second time in his career) in the 8th round and knocked into permanent retirement. Marciano’s attempt to win the heavyweight crown was now imminent.

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After ending Joe Louis’ career for good and winning his next 3 fights by knockout inside 3 rounds, Marciano’s shot at the title loomed.

On 21st September 1952, Rocky Marciano stepped through the ropes for the 43rd time in his professional boxing career to face Jersey Joe Walcott for the richest prize in sport, The Heavyweight Championship of the World. Walcott didn’t follow the script of the Rock’s forty-two previous opponents. On the canvas for the first time in his career in the first round, being beaten to the punch, down on all the judges’ scorecards, Rocky Marciano was being outboxed by Jersey Joe through twelve rounds. Coming off his stool to face Walcott in the 13th, Marciano looked like he was facing his first professional defeat and a lashing from the press the following day. However, with his never-say-die attitude, Marciano pulled off a feat which still mesmerises boxing fans to this day. Feinting with his left hand and throwing Walcott’s focus off for a fraction of a second, Marciano slammed a vicious and brutal right hook into the Jersey Joe Walcott’s jaw sending him to the canvas for the full 10-count. That night, Marciano gave Walcott a painful reminder that at any time in a fight, you are always one punch away from victory. But more importantly, Rocky Marciano was now the Heavyweight Champion of the World!

Eight months later, with a humiliated Walcott wanting revenge and Marciano never one to turn down a challenge (or a chance to prove he wasn’t a one-punch wonder), the two fighters went toe-to-toe again. Their second meeting went a little differently. Rushing from his corner, not giving Walcott an inch and only two minutes into the first round, Marciano hit Jersey Joe flush on the jaw with a thunderous straight right hand punch, knocking him out for the full count once again. The Brockton Blockbuster was truly lived up to his nickname.

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With the heavyweight championship belt securely around his waist, Marciano ruled the division for four years before announcing his retirement in 1956.

“I don’t want to be remembered as a beaten champion”

Seven months after knocking out “The Old Mongoose”, Archie Moore in the ninth round, Rocky Marciano put his career in the ring behind him and retired from the sport with a perfect professional record of 49-0 (43 KO’s). Never has boxing ever seen such a physically unsuitable candidate for the heavyweight division prevail through sheer grit, determination and dedication as Marciano did.

Tragically, Rocky Marciano died at the age of forty-five on 31st August 1969 in a plane crash. He will forever be remembered as the champion who never relented or gave up in the ring. A fighter who always found a way to win.

My favourite hidden gems in Rome (Yes, I am that cultured)

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Chances are, this is what you think of when you hear the word “Rome” uttered in conversation.

When people book a holiday to Rome, 9 times out of 10 they will tell you they’ll be staying in a hotel in the city centre and will be seeing sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. All whilst drowning in their own sweat with the mistaken belief that a break to the mainstream centre of Rome is romantic and cultured. How wrong these fraggles are.

I’m about to tell you of a few places in and around Rome which are off the beaten track, rich in culture and aesthetically beautiful. Those of you planning a romantic proposal, going on a make-or-break holiday or looking to impress your girlfriend, you might want to bookmark this page or make a few notes on this post because a trip to these places will leave any woman wet at the knees.

First of all, anyone that has spent a long time in the city knows that a visit to St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican will leave you frustrated with all the crowds and half blind from all the camera flashes in the Sistine Chapel.  You will be pleased to know, however, that there is a way (and a better way it must be said) of viewing and admiring the Vatican from afar. Just South of the city centre, near the Ponte Sublicio on the Tiber, there is a place called Piazza Dei Cavalieri di Malta which snugly sits on the Aventine Hill. When you arrive here, you will be met by an large, old and unassuming doorway. Take a look through the keyhole and the sight is a great view of St. Peter’s lined with the Piazza’s foliage (this view is particularly inspiring at night).

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Perfect Alignment: If I was a religious man I’d put this keyhole view down to the work of some sort of deity

As Impressive as the keyhole of this door is, the wonders of this site do not end here, oh no, my friend. Just a stone’s throw around the corner is the so-called “Secret Garden” of the Villa del Priorato di Malta. In simple terms, this is a picturesque grove dating back to the 18th century which even includes a stone balcony over-looking the city. Also, it must be said that some of the trees here grow a white flower which smells of oranges, if you tell your girlfriend/significant other prior to your arrival and then offer her one of these flowers, she will be bowled over by your  Attenborough-esque knowledge, trust me.

If you move even further South of the city centre and swing towards the coast, you will find yourself in the town of Ostia Antica. To put it as simply as possible, this town has been around the block many a time. This town is so steeped in history it makes Ryan Giggs look like a rosy-cheeked, fresh-faced infant. Every major era of Italian history marks this piece of land. A Roman theatre and market square survive, the medieval Castle of Giulio II and Church of Saint Aurea still stand proudly. There are even bullet holes from World War II lodged in some of the walls.

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Tucked away and peaceful: Castel di Giulio II is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Central Rome

I want to draw your attention to Castel di Giulio II, Chiesa di Sant’Aurea and their immediate surroundings. Having left the fierce pace of modern life, coming to this place will feel like you’ve gone back to a more simpler time and the hands on your watch will magically seem to slow down to a much more leisurely pace. This is mainly because the church dates back to approximately 1483 and the castle, a few years earlier. The houses in the immediate vicinity are around the same age as well. Now that’s old school.

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Chiesa di Sant’Aurea: contained in a courtyard about 100 yards and a few hundred years away from modern civilisation

The church itself is enclosed in a courtyard as historic as everything else, almost like a time vacuum. At night, the whole pocket of land is particularly impressive and you can pretty vividly imagine the battle(s) that would have raged here in World War II.

Finally, I was never lucky enough or had enough time to do this, but there are two restaurants right here (Ristorante Cipriani and Ristorante Monumento to be exact) which, to be perfectly honest, are where I’d take a potential wife or a serious girlfriend if females weren’t so repulsed by my so many bear and ape-like characteristics. The food here is, for starters (no pun intended), reasonably-priced. Moreover, the cuisine here is so authentically Roman that it makes Ragu and Dolmio look and (I imagine) taste like paint that you’d purchase from the B&Q mixing desk.

So there you go, that’s all I have to say on this matter other than, when she says yes, you can thank me in the comments section

 

MEGA BURGER!!! (said in German accent)

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Anyone who’s had to deal with the plight of a bad hangover will tell you how much better they felt  after eating some carb and fat rich food such as a bacon sarny, a full English breakfast or even a portion of fish and chips if you feel like pushing the boat out. How much of this is a placebo effect is up for debate, however you can’t deny the symptomatic relief that these aforementioned foods offer.

Those who have basic knowledge of the social patterns followed by myself and my housemates at university will know that Friday student night at Pure is a fast-growing tradition where alcohol is consumed in vast quantities and where students congregate in order relieve the stress at the end of another week of work.

Needless to say, this wonderful night has also resulted in many a hangover on a Saturday  and yesterday proved no different. Inspired by the horse meat scandal, we decided to cure these hangovers by going to Lidl, buying burgers, buns, cheese and bacon in bulk and gorging on the product that was created after cooking them. This product goes by the name of none other than MEGA BURGER!!!!!!!

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MEGA BURGER!!! proved nothing but a resounding success in curing our hangovers, proving teamwork makes your dream work and starting a new house tradition.

What MEGA BURGER!!! involved was 3 students cooking 9 burgers, 9 rashers of bacon, a load of mushrooms & onions and cutting open 9 bread rolls. As you can guess, this resulted in 3 burgers each. The process of preparing and cooking these magnificent burgers can only be described as a slick and well-oiled military operation which resulted in the most satisfying and tasty meal that Portsmouth Student Ghetto has ever experienced.

To sum up the events that transpired, I shall say that what we learned is that new traditions are constantly being invented (and MEGA BURGER!!! is a fucking brilliant new tradition) also, the skill and team work we displayed in collectively creating MEGA BURGER!!! just goes to show that the Blitz Spirit is still alive in this country.

What is cheating & is it ever alright?

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The concept of “cheating” is a much more complicated issue than first meets the eye. The vast majority of people, if not all people, would condemn cheating and would be quick to scorn those caught in doing so. However, pretty much everyone has cheated in the past in some way, shape or form. But, what exactly constitutes cheating and can it ever be justified?

Imagine you’re in this situation: it’s exam time during your last year at university and you have only one exam left to sit, you have a brilliant job lined up for after you graduate but it all rides on the fact you have to get a first to secure it. Seeing as you’ve put the work in consistently during your years at uni, the score you have to obtain isn’t outrageously high, for argument’s sake let’s say you have to score at least 68% to get that first. Whichever way you look at it, your performance in this exam will either see you win a fantastic start in a coveted position in your chosen career field along with optimal career prospects or you’ll be left at the bottom of the pile after graduation (i.e. You’ll probably end up on a year-long job hunt just to secure a job which isn’t even half as good as the one you had lined up).

A few days before the exam the answers to the paper you’re about to sit fall into your possession through no endeavour of your own. Maybe your lecturer dropped them in the hallway, you picked them up but couldn’t give them back to him/her because he/she didn’t hear you call his/her name such was the rush he/she was in. Whatever happened for you to gain access to these answers, in theory you have plenty of time to learn these answers word-for-word, number-for-number, sit the exam, look spectacular in the process and gain that all-important first with marks to spare.

In addition, all you have to do is exercise a bit of common sense (such as destroy those answers as soon as you get home from that exam and keep your mouth shut) and you WILL get away with it.

You think to yourself, “I didn’t steal these answers, I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m technically still revising if I learn these answers by rote, it’s not as if I’m sneaking cheat sheets or notes typed onto my phone into the exam. I’m just making sure I get a good start in my career during times when I can’t afford to be in a financially awkward situation.” Is this cheating? Is this justifiable? And, more importantly, would you do it if you were in that situation?

OK, so what exactly is cheating? Well, there are generally two camps that any example of cheating can fall into (quite often they’ll fall into both).

The first definition is: to act in a dishonest and/or deceitful manner in order to attain an advantage or some sort of self-gain.

The second definition is: to enhance your performance by using methods to gain an advantage inaccessible to others (in other words, an unfair advantage).

Now we get to the issue of Lance Armstrong. Was Armstrong’s use of Performance-enhancing drugs a dishonest/deceitful way of obtaining an advantage or self-gain? Absolutely. But, did his use of PED’s give him and his team an unfair advantage which noone else could have had access to? Considering the number of cyclists who have been caught doping, almost certainly not.

So, Lance Armstrong’s doping in all those Tours de France only actually falls into one camp of the definition of cheating. So what exactly is it that makes what he did so bad? After all, there are so many other cyclists who have been disgraced in similar circumstances yet they have not faced the same media firestorm.

The answer to that is simple, it’s what your mum and dad told you all through your childhood, “it’s not the fact that you did it, it’s the fact that you lied about it”. This phrase is bandied about so often but it is so so true. People are so angry at the fact that Armstrong lied and lied repeatedly on the record about his doping and destroyed the careers of those who tried to blow the whistle on him. In this way, you could say the cheating isn’t the bad part of Armstrong’s story seeing as he faces criminal charges for lying under oath and not the doping itself.

To try to decipher that hypothetical situation above, would memorising those answers be using an unfair advantage inaccessible to others? You can’t reasonably deny the fact that it is. But, would it be using dishonesty/deception for the purpose of self-gain? That question’s a bit more difficult to answer.

The reason that that question is so hard to answer definitively is because some will see it as dishonesty/deception and some won’t (really depends on whether they’d give into that temptation or not).

Those who say it would not be a dishonest and deceitful thing to do are displaying a phenomenon which psychologists call cognitive dissonance. This is essentially where human beings will always justify their behaviour when a small part of them feels it is wrong on some level just to disspell that slight twinge of guilt (e.g “I know smoking’s bad for me but I do it because I have a stressful life”).

So, is cheating ever alright?

It’s like diving in football. No it’s not alright, it’s a coward’s tactic but it happens, even those high up in the world do it and more often than not it’s those who are bad at it that get caught.

Juliet was jailbait and Romeo was a raging paedo

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and as is tradition, the closer the day gets, the more excited the couples become and the girls who are spoken for are getting increasingly restless with anticipation. And it makes me sick and nauseous to my very core. In this post, I shall deal with 3 issues:

1. Why Romeo was in actual fact a raging paedophile and not some sort of romantic demi-god that moronic women traditionally use as a template for an “ideal partner” (that concept doesn’t exist in reality, but that’s another story).

2. The reasons why Valentine’s Day is (for want of a better word) stupid.

3. The fact that pretty much every girl is nothing more than a self-serving malingerer who acts like a petulant 4 year old.

In 1593 (give or take a few years), William Shakespeare, history’s most overrated and overly-hyped playwright (seriously, that prick wrote an unprecedented number of clichéd plays and sonnets, stole an outrageous number of plots from other writers and was essentially just a propagandist for the Tudors) wrote a play called Romeo and Juliet. Not only has this play caused a sensational amount of frustration for GCSE English pupils, it also glorifies paedophiles if you read between the lines.

Allow me to elaborate, it is thought that a young man like Romeo would have been approximately 18 years old. Apparently, a young woman (and we’re talking pretty young here) like Juliet would have been around 14 years old. Could you imagine going for a 14 year old when you were 18? Well, neither can I.

Unfortunately for those who possess a concept of common decency, this is only just where the fuckery begins. You see, in Act 1 Scene 2 or 3 or even 4 (somewhere near the beginning), Romeo is being a pathetic virgin by mourning his break up with some former girlfriend (I forget her name) and he’s pretty much on the verge of suicide (man up, crying over the lost affection with a female human is for the weak). Not only is he the abnormally obsessive kind, he’s also really into girls who are way too young for him and he kills Juliet’s cousin later on in the play, the symptoms of a sociopathic paedophile. Jimmy Savile was therefore far from the first paedophile to be involved in the entertainment business. Thus, Shakespeare was a pathetic excuse for a playwright. This blog is more original than that man’s plays. In addition, the fact that “Shakespeare Day” is a real entity and coincides with St. George’s Day cuts me up inside.

Moving onto the second issue, the fundamental reason why Valentine’s Day is stupid is because we don’t get the day off for it. I get a day off for Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and the odd Jubilee and national bank holiday. All of these days just mentioned at the very very least give me a day off and often live up to their respective hypes. But does Valentine’s Day do that? Fuck no. This cretinous day was dropped from the Liturgical calender in 1969 because priests couldn’t stand stand this so-called “St. Valentine” a mediocre priest at best getting a day of the year dedicated to himself.

When I tell you about this Valentine character, you’ll see how this vile excuse for a holiday has absolutely zero foundations, tradition or culture backing it up (it’s like Tulisa if you think about it, she claims to have “urban roots” when in fact all that happened was that she was in a band, made a few songs with a slight bass line whilst wearing a slightly more upmarket tracksuit).

There were two St. Valentine’s during the 3rd century AD, a time when the Roman Empire was persecuting Christians: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Intermna, a priest and a bishop respectively, minimal information is known about both of these men (therefore it repulses me that they merit their titles). However, their martyrdom in the year 270 AD (c.) is commemorated on February 14th. A common tale is that Valentine was a priest and married Christians in cognito due to the fact Roman marriage practices did not suit the new Christian movement. If this is the case it is a cheap excuse to found Valentine’s day on as this type of defiance has been practiced many a time throughout history (by the FLN during the Franco-Algerian War and by the Jewish Bielski partisans who fled Nazi persecution to name a couple). Therefore, Valentine’s Day is just a stoopid corporate hijack of a day for people blinded by ignorance and historical inaccuracy. Fraggles!

My final (and arguably most subjective) point is that all girls are nothing self-serving malingerers who behave like petulant 4 year olds. I reinforce this statement with the fact that all you need to do is pop into Liquid on a thursday to see that about 80% of a girl’s actions are mere attempts to satisfy their animalistic instincts. Also, why wear a painful high heeled shoe to “look good” and then complain about the foot pain? Do you see me slitting my wrists and then bemoaning the fact my clothes are getting covered in blood?

Finally, if you disagree with me and think I’m just being a cynical prick, I shall tell you this one simple and undeniable truth: any woman would leave you in the blink of an eye if another man offered them a certain amount of money, that amount is just different for different women. Real talk.

 

 

Origins of the word “bus”

Chances are, if you have never spent more than 10 minutes around Matt Lawrence and his mates at university, the word “bus” will signify a large vehicle used to transport a large number of passengers to a common destination, hence a noun. However, those lucky enough to come across the illustrious and aforementioned Matt will know that “bus” is actually an adjective used to describe someone who is aesthetically ugly.

This word cannot be dismissed as just a “slang” word that grannies will sneer at and turn their noses up at. Oh no. This word has mixed origins. First of all, some [more narrow minded] scholars believe this word to be just a mere abbreviation of the colloquial term “butters”. However, the word “bus” has a slightly richer meaning than that plebeian term. “Bus” more often than not will be used to describe someone who is not only aesthetically displeasing but also someone who “rates” their own looks. Hence, an ugly arrogant person.

In this way, a simple abbreviation of “butters” does not do justice the term “bus”, no sir. The real origin of the term dates back approximately 2000 years to the Romans, “bus” derives from the original latin term “superbus” which translates as “arrogant”, encapsulating the concept of “bus” in a much better way.

In short, to use the term “bus” is to demonstrate that you are nothing but an extremely cultured man who descends from the great lineage of the Kings of Rome. Lawyered.