Sorry for the paucity of posts around here right now. I actually had something in mind to write about last night, but I got caught up fighting with my CD drive again. Through the application of a knackered external CD-RW drive I found buried in my gubbins, I have now successfully demonstrated that my computer can recognise CD drives (unfortunately said drive is too knackered to be of use otherwise). The hunt for why it refuses to recognise the internal hard drive continues.
Also, thanks for the various offers of tech support and suggestions for what to try next.