Oh, wow. Yeah, in lilo.conf there was the line:
I knew the line was required for CD burning, don't know too much about what it does. Does it mean everything to do with hdc, the cdrom will be run through scsi emulation? Even simply mounting read-only? I didn't compile the kernel with any scsi drivers because the notes on ide-scsi said it's not required for burning in 2.6. I commented the append out, ran lilo, rebooted and it worked fine.
Many thanks, I never would have thought of that.