The update failures in most cases depend on one Adobe app locking the installer database. This can be caused by incompatible packages, e.g. a critical package is overwritten a new version and then that new version becomes king of the hill so otehrs can't access it and never update. Similarly, Beta software can cause this. To cut a long story short: Uninstall each and every bit Adobe (including AIR, Acrobat etc.), run the CS4 Clean Script, then delete the caps.db in Library:Application Support:Adobe:caps. Never let the apps update automatically, but rather download the manual updaters from the Adobe site and apply them, making sure tha apps that are most critical for you get updated first.
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, I'll let you know how it goes. At a shoot today but hopefully in the next few days I'll get a few hours to give it another go.
So to unistall everything adobe, should literally manually rummage around for any folder that says Adobe in my operating system and delete them?
I noticed when I used the unistaller before some folders were left.
Ok after a few false starts (my fault) I have got back and running all thanks to your advice!
Big big thank you for helping out.