Finally got my Mac back after an extended visit to the IT technician (thanks again Bob). It is now running both MacOS X and Windows xp (after a few wee difficulties that had to be ironed out) . It all seems very stable, and I should now be able to run all the software I need.
I've not had the chance to try everything I use on a day to day basis - I've got everything crossed for the first try at using ALBA some time next week.
The only bug-bear I have is that due to network privilege constraints for us lowly teachers (regardless of experience and ability) the PC half of my split personality Mac doesn't allow me administrator rights. This means anything I need to install has to be done by the already stretched IT technicians. I'm more than able to do this myself, but apparently can't be trusted......
The Mac part of my Mac, if you follow me, will happily allow me to install any bit of software, seemingly being more trusting.
Seems an odd state of affairs, but who am I to judge?