Octavia Sheepshanks: Week 8

In her final column, OCTAVIA reveals all about her true identity...

It’s time to come clean.

When I received an email informing me that my application to write a column for The Tab had been accepted, I knew there had been a technical malfunction. You see, being a shy and retiring person by nature, preferring to remain an anonymous entity amid the faceless mass of Cambridge students, I would never ever choose to put my name out there to write a weekly column for the most widely read publication (loose term) in the university.

But just as I was about to reply, explaining their cataclysmic blunder, something stopped me. As a fundamentally dull human being, I have often wondered what it would be like to be interesting. Could this be the opportunity that would enlighten me, once and for all, before I reverted to the mundane and humdrum life that was my true calling? Perhaps this clerical error was not an error after all…but fate.

For the first time in my life since cross-country at school, I felt my heart begin to beat a little faster. My fingers scurried over the keys of my laptop, as if possessed: “Dear John, thank you so much for your email,” I typed, shakily, “I would of course still love to write a column for you this term. I will naturally be writing under my pseudonym, Octavia Sheepshanks, if that’s alright.” Thankfully, he agreed, and so began my exercise in quirkiness, my weekly foray into the world of a truly eccentric human being.

Readers, I confess: there were times when I wondered whether I’d gone too far. Take the name, for instance: Sheepshanks. As several people were quick to point out, it contains the word ‘sheep’. I was suddenly beset by misgivings as to whether anybody would be able to take Octavia seriously. Perhaps they would see through the kookiness for what it truly was: an elaborate web of lies. But as the first wave of comments appeared, my concerns were alleviated. People were really embracing the character of Octavia. One person suggested that sheep might be scared of being shanked by her, another ingeniously dubbed her ‘Octavia Shitwanks’, and countless other commenters remarked that they were reading the columns purely for the name! An indubitable success.

And then there’s Susie, of course, who graciously agreed to model as ‘Octavia’ for the column’s photograph. I didn’t even pay her; she’s the kind of exhibitionist that lets people take photos of her for free! I think I even remember her saying she enjoyed it – a concept utterly alien to me, introvert that I am. She certainly embraced the role, specially purchasing a ‘loud’ patterned top that is exactly what I imagine Octavia would wear.

Naturally, as the face of my creation, Susie gets recognised a fair bit. Only the other day she admitted that, when asked if she is ‘Octavia Sheepshanks’, she’s taken to responding in the affirmative just to save time, and has perfected a slightly apologetic smile by way of accompaniment.

The Facebook account was the easy bit. Fortunately, there wasn’t anyone with that name already on the site, so all I had to do was upload a couple of arty-looking cover photos, and one of a random girl I found on the internet posing on a clifftop, that looked vaguely like Susie from the back. In my haste I didn’t notice the hint of side boob, which did attract some criticism in the comments section. But of course Octavia, being the exact opposite of me in every way, loves all kinds of attention, negative or otherwise. In fact, I hear Octavia’s side boob is the next Pippa Middleton’s bottom.

But alas, now that Lent Term is drawing to a close, so must Octavia’s glorious ‘manic pixie dream girl’ existence. I am tremendously grateful to everyone who helped bring my little fantasy to life, but I would especially like to thank anyone who contributed with comments over the course of the term. I imagine that if I’d been writing as myself, I might have found the harsher remarks quite upsetting. However, because said comments were merely referring to a social construct, over which I had total control, I actually found them very helpful.

So am I looking forward to putting this mad experiment behind me and returning to my staple diet of mediocrity? Well, while it has been a fascinating experience, it has made me appreciate my own bland life in ways I could never have imagined (although this may be due to the fact that I was born without an imagination). Having lived vicariously through Octavia’s many wardrobe malfunctions, endearing family quarrels and most importantly, boy-related dramas, I am now extremely content with my own disregard for exploratory fashion choices, lack of opinion on any subject, and utter deficiency of anything resembling emotion.

Having said that, I urge you to remember Octavia, dear readers. She will always hold a special place in my heart. Or she would do, if I had one.

  • NO

    i don’t believe you

    • Super Hans

      This is bullshit

  • I don’t

    Believe you

  • Persistent anonymous rude commenter

    It’s been a pleasure

  • But, but, but,


    • Working Class Lad

      Great one Tab for deleting the link to the article and picture. Why have it up for ages then delete it? To those who didn’t get a chance to see it, popped up with her snooty looking parents trying to sell some massive house. Bourgeois scum


        PAH! Selling a house! PFFFFFT. PATHETIC. Let the working class rule! Let us lived in tiny shit houses and have no ambitions! Most of all, let us destroy those we are jealous of! THEY ARE BOURGEOIS SCUM! HURRAH FOR THE WORKERS.


        • Working Class Lad

          Missing the point mate, but nice try

      • RampantRabbit
  • great use of


  • WHAT!?

    It was all a lie? I fucking hate you Susie. You’ve broken my heart.

    • Susie

      Hey, I was just the model! I didn’t write this article!

  • I SAID SO!!!

    I suspected you were an experiment to see what people would make of such an irritatingly self-promoting manic dream girl woman! I SAID THAT!! Please see previous comments for my amazingly astute observation, though I will admit you had me so convinced I gave up on my idea and decided you were just a wanker. It’s a sad thing that characters like Octavia are so common in Cambridge that I thought you were real.

    • haha

      don’t be silly

    • Hagrid

      Oh, shut up.

    • Wisteria Scathes,

      is that you?

  • Susie

    Is a hottie. Can I have her email?

  • Stalker Extraordinaire

    The Facebook account dates back to 2007…….

  • Public School Boy

    No one makes a facebook account with over 1000 friends for an 8 week column. That would be wayyyyy too much effort.

    • bastionoftruth

      not everyone finds it difficult to make friends. i.e. state school kids

  • Mark Liu and Daniel Henry Kaes

    So derivative…

    • except


  • I am going to pretend

    That this article is an elaborate troll. I dislike the notion of Octavia Sheepshanks not being a real name.

    • Haha

      you don’t need to pretend, baby. If satirical writing can be described as ‘an elaborate troll’, and I’m fairy sure it can, then it’s your lucky day.

  • pathetically clever

    Well done at finding a way of getting everyone to talk about you. However, since anyone who has 10 seconds to spare can easily check your Facebook and see that you’ve been around a lot longer than merely this term, all it does is make it seem like all those comments really got to you: and that’s a good thing. You wrote inane self-obsessed articles that demonstrated insecurity of the most pathetic kind, and you really should take those comments on board, rather than attempt to spin them in some way so that people will talk about you even more.

    • To me…

      The most annoying thing about Octavia, real or not, was not that her columns reeked of insecurity, it’s that they reeked of feigned insecurity, which is a trait I loathe above almost all others. She’s that stupid irritating girl who’s constantly asking people if she’s pretty or not because she knows they’re going to tell her she is. It’s the people who don’t ask because they’re afraid of making people awkward by forcing them to lie that are insecure, not humblebragging attention whores.

      • pathetically clever part deux

        Without turning this into a meta-meta-meta discussion, I’d say that such feigned insecurity is actually a form insecurity if you get me. I don’t want to sound like some faux-intellectual Varsity journalist or something with this, but to me the confirmation was the fact she had to come up with this article, in a weak attempt to turn it around and make the commenters look silly. That third from last paragraph reeks of sadness that people didn’t like to hear about her boring life, and that her endless pursuit of male attention perhaps didn’t reflect well.

        Quite likely her friends have been unwilling to tell her how stupid she sounds (or she surrounds herself with similar people, god knows there’s plenty like her in Cambridge), so she’s had the Tab comments which yes tend to be a bit rough, but in my two and a half years of Tab consumption rarely have I seen such vitriol. She clearly heard the message, hence this reactionary piece, and maybe over time she’ll get it. I hardly want to upset her, but hopefully such things will bring her crash landing back to reality…

  • you’re trying too hard

    the boring bullshit about your appearance was a lot more natural than this half-arsed attempt at being meta. Good riddance

    • no fuss

      meta is a word used by knobs

      • meta


  • Lemme guess

    You added 1100 fake friends? Nice one, love.

  • I must say…

    …I haven’t particularly enjoyed most of your columns on here, but you gone done good at the end. Very well done indeed.

  • All missing the point?

    Well I thought this was a very clever end to what was a mixed bag of columns. Well saved.

  • Admiral Ackbar


  • Gobbler off of Extras Season 2

    I don’t get it.

    • For those who’ve seen it

      that’s such a great joke!

  • Inception

    Was a walk in the park compared to this shit

  • LIES

    An ‘O.R.Sheepshanks’ exists on jackdaw. Also ‘Susie’ – the classic pseudonym.

    • Hermes Addressbook

      ors26 O.R. Sheepshanks Queens’ College – Undergraduates

  • surely

    this article is satire? anyone actually looking up her facebook account hasn’t really got the point

    • Anonymous

      thank god some one has said this.

  • DSK

    This girl could use a visit from “the bruiser.”

    • Disgraceful

      No platform for fascists and rapists on the tab! All who claim to support Thatcher, Saville, DSK, Marine Le Pen, or anybody else of that nature should be banned immediately! It’s pathetic that this too is a place where we can not feel safe anymore. Joking or not this is disgraceful truly.

  • Most

    entertaining article of the lot however, on a personal note, you should probably face up to the fact that the real you, which you succeeded in portraying through your literary efforts, attracted hatred, pity and vitriol – week in, week out.

    Try and work at accepting that or even thing about changing something, and this balls-up of a column wouldn’t have been in vain.

  • Pretending

    your house isn’t on fire won’t save you from the flames.

  • Octavia

    wanks sheep.

  • This

    is quite brilliant actually. And all those commenting that they have ingeniously outwitted her by looking up her facebook have only made it more entertaining.

  • omg


  • Woops

    Some people got a little too riled up by Octavia’s joke about not being a real person!

    Have a Horlicks or something, you’ll feel better…

  • Very..

    …clever! Metatastic, I loved it :)

  • Perpignan Pétanque Society

    We’re all very confused. We’ve already had our pétanque uniforms embroidered with “Octavia Sheepshanks”. We feel as though we’ve all been taken for fools.

    Our team captain Jean Marc is having to have his tattoo, of what he now know to be Susie’s face, removed from his upper arm.

    Pierre Laurent is taking our ovine mascot to the abattoir this après midi.

    Our lawyers shall be getting in touch presently seeking to recover some of the costs this ride you’ve taken us for has inflicted.

  • What is

    all this “meta” shit? Is it a Cambridge in joke?

  • S. Holmes

    Most amusing. Trivially false, however. An elementary search on lookup.cam.ac.uk reveals the existence an undergraduate named O.R. Sheepshanks at Queens’.

  • For those who are confused…

    Reread it again, knowing she’s real. (I didn’t get it first time around)
    It’s a brilliant satire of persona. Love it.

  • Jeremy Hinds

    Fuck off Octavia. I knew your facebook account was fake from the moment I saw it! Who would do such a thing

  • carol


  • line

    please can the column not be over I look forward to it every week

  • comments like

    ‘In fact, I hear Octavia’s side boob is the next Pippa Middleton’s bottom’ make me punch myself in the nose

  • Octavia Shitwanks

    is in my philosophophy course. I have no idea who Octavia Sheepshanks is though…

  • Tired of this now

    She’s real. I went to school with her. She’s exactly like her so called false persona. I don’t know if this was meant to be satire or serious but either way, I continue to find her writing uninteresting and a little forced

    • confused.com

      If you know she’s real, why don’t you know whether it was meant to be satirical or serious?

    • bitchay

      and if she’s ‘exactly like her so called false persona’ – how is it forced?

  • Beautiful

    Great last article, with an ingenious idea. Would like to see you back on the tab next term.

    • It’s

      incredibly lame to post comments on your own article.

      • Anonymous


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