It took quite a lot of searching the web and experimentation to find the solution to the problem, so I thought I would share it with other users, to spare your heartache!
It turned out to be two (possibly three) separate issues, either or both of which may apply if you have this problem:
1. The file
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sudo rm /etc/mtab.fuselock
2. This applies to pre-ext4 filing systems (my solid-state memory is formatted ext2): there is a bug in udisks2 (v2.0.0-1) which means that it fails when trying to mount devices onto filing systems which do not support Access Control Lists (ACL), such as ext2/ext3. This was logged as Ubuntu bug #1048059 and was fixed in December 2012 by a new version of udisks2.
To install the new version, run Synaptic Package Manager from the desktop menu, and search for udisks2.
You need to install version 2.0.0-1ubuntu1. If it is not showing as the latest version, then click the Reload icon. If it is still not showing, then go to Settings -> Repositories -> Other Sources tab, and make sure that both Recommended updates and http://packages.medibuntu.org/ quantal free non-free are selected. Then close that window, and reload again.
Once you have version 2.0.0-1ubuntu1 available, mark udisks2 for upgrade, and click the Apply icon. When the new version has been installed, reboot, and your problems should be over.
3. Before embarking on the above solutions, I noticed in the Package Manager that both udisks and udisks2 were installed. As these were described on one of the web pages as conflicting, I uninstalled udisks. As I did this first, I don't know whether the existence of both packages was contributing to the problem, but this may be another action you need to take.
I hope somebody finds this helpful.