@ Deepcuts: fearing corruption is what pushed me towards a reinstall in the first place. The 102 install was clean. Corruption of the SD card was a distinct possibility, as power outages are known that they can have such an effect on the raspberry pi. However the fact that most packages install fine, on top of being a new install, i seriously think there's something else going on with the core 102 pakfire.
@ H3rrahuumori: not being overly enthousiastic about this option, bearing in mind the history described above, i made an image of my running 102 SD card using PowerISO (i always do this so i can put it back on the SD card with Etcher or Win32Imager, should things blow up in my face) and went ahead with a full update to core 110. So far it's holding up. To my surprise you are quite right the other packages install fine (samba, sane etc).
I guess it's now time to make a backup of this core 110 SD card !