Once upon a rainy Thursday afternoon, Electra was cleaning her house when she found her compassion.

It must have been missing for quite some time, although nobody had remarked upon it, least of all Electra herself.

She picked it up, holding it gingerly by one tentacle between her thumb and forefinger. Its sojourn behind the sofa cushions had left it rather crumpled, and festooned with fluff, cake crumbs and dog hair.

Presumably it looked rather pitiful, as it squirmed in her grip and sent several luckless dust mites tumbling to their doom, but Electra, being without her compassion, only regarded its moist clefts and pliant protuberances with mild disgust.

“What is this?” she asked her flatmate? “Is it yours?”

The flatmate stepped out from behind her pile of hats, and squinted at the gently pulsating compassion. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I’ve never seen one of those before. It’s rather sweet, isn’t it?”

“No,” Electra said, flatly. “It’s vile. If you want a flat full of unidentifiable slimy invertebrates, I suggest you find yourself a home in the Palaeozoic era.” And with this uncompromising utterance she flung her abandoned compassion out of the window, where it landed with a soft “splush” on the pavement.

As its former owner shuddered and returned to her housework, the compassion crawled feebly up the road and hid inside a bin, where it was later discovered by a foraging tramp who had lost his dog and was in the market for a replacement sidekick.

He adopted the compassion but tragically, as it was not his own, it did not fit him well and after a few days it began to produce bizarre behavioural symptoms.

The unfortunate young man was eventually picked up by the local police, after he’d spent a frustrating week attempting to talk pigeons down from ledges and help parking meters across the road.

The psychologist, with an unusual flash of acuity, dubbed it a case of misplaced compassion.