A big thank you to every one who commented and emailed about our laptop.
Lots of suggestions were made but unfortunately it is dead.
The jack in the back of the laptop which the power lead plugged into snapped off. This meant that a vital powering piece was inside the plug on the end of the lead instead of inside the computer.
This happened 14 months ago, the day after boxing day 2005. I think the timing of that can be described as sod's law !! So, ever resourceful, big J had a go at fixing it and he did very well (although I wouldn't recommend his method to ANYONE !! ) The lead was 'embellished' with a nail (pushed into place in the end of the lead with a hammer) and then put into the laptop and hey presto it worked !!!!
It worked like this, complete with danger-live-nail, for the 14 months. Some days it was temperamental, other days it worked like a dream.....until the other day when it went kaput (sparks were present) (i was accused of being a drama queen, but warranted I say !! ) and the laptop was declared dead.....surprisingly the experts at the computer fair agreed with us !!
To fix it would mean a new jack plug inserted at a cost of £100, a new power lead purchased at a cost of £80 and also a new battery (ours was fried) which would cost £100. We decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one. I think you can understand why.
Before we learnt about the hard drive reader gizmo there was talk of buying a universal laptop power lead, embellishing with a nail and using that to power up so we could copy everything onto CD......thank goodness we didn't need to go down that route !!!!
Oh and did I mention that this time round we bought a P.C. instead of a laptop......less breakable I hope !!