hmmm, thanks for the info and advice guys - as you might imagine, I'm trying not to spend unnecessarily on this, so being patient, my friendly mechanic, and an auto electrician, checked out the (integrated! thats new to me) coil, distributor (which looks brand new) sensors and diagnostics and the wiring in between the lot and no faults found and we couldnt reproduce the problem.
SO at the moment, we're avoiding long journeys hoping the prob comes back so I can drive right round to the garage when it does.
wonders .... could it be the immobiliser - I know its daft, but when it starts to misbehave, the 'blip' in the revs is about at the same frequency that the immobiiser light flashes. No forget it I'm going mad.