God came to me in a dream last night and said "replace thy SATA cables my son". So I did. Just now
Here's the thing about my pc - when it's boots, it normally gets to the "press esc to boot" screen and you do and then the screen goes blank with a flashing cursor for like 10 seconds before it boots. Unplug the DVDR drive and replaced the drive cables.. this no longer happens. Interesting! I also have pagedefrag running on every boot so i always see the pre-logon WindowsXP text screen (with the small white winxp logo in the top right) - the xp logo on this was always corrupted but now it's not..
I also just had the no-post screen problem when i plugged the dvdr back in which _seemed_ to go away if i unplugged the DVDR. So I either have a DVDR SATA problem here, or bad cables/connections to drives or both.. I'm going to see if I can get it to crash..