There doesn't really seem to be any play in the cable end fitting
A tiny bit but not enough that it would prevent it pushing into gear, not to my mind anyway. Still haven't got any friends (
) to wiggle while I watch so maybe it's doing something different that I hadn't considered. Off up the motorway in an hour... glad 5th is still working
Update - just had another look and it seems the gaiter/end fitting on the fore/aft cable (that is, the cable that controls the pivoting action on the gearbox rather than the up/down action) is broken. So the cable can pull OK, but when it tries to push, i.e. to select 2/4/R, it just buckles.
The flexible rubber gaiter is intact but the sleeve before this (the next part back towards the gearstick) has come loose from the grommet that locates the cable in the bracket on top of the gearbox.
Looks like it has been cable tied in place before and the cable tie has now (understandably!) failed. So when I go to select 2/4/R, the cable is pushing the selector arm away but has nothing to react against with no fixed sleeve, and so is just bending instead of pushing nice and solidly.
So the next question is - can this end fitting be fixed/replaced on its own, or is it a whole new cable...?!