Subversion is tricksy. It waits until you have been lulled into a false sense of security to spring a surpise on you. When that suprise is sprung, google does not have any answers.
Having used subversion for a while and made 400 commits, I decided the time was right to figure out if the subversion repository is in order. I have several backups but it always pays to be paranoid, and in this case i wasn't paranoid enough.
svnadmin verify; the command used to verify a repository was executed but it failed with the svn: malformed file error. Google didn't reveal anything too inpressive. I wasn't even thinking of worrying, I have at least five backups.
The next step, I thought was to create a new repository and try to import from my backup. Sadly it turns out that when the offending revision (122) was dumped out, the dump command had in fact choked on it and halted. The result is that the dumps (backups) are useless. The fault here is partially mine, I shouldn't have made incremental dumps, but then again, if your repository is fairly large non incremental dumps could mean that you spend all your life's savings on CDs.
So now, I have a corrupt repository, five useless backups and frayed nerves. I would happily delete the whole damn thing but since switching from CVS to subversion I have come to rely on it heavily, too heavily. So it looks like it's going to be a whole lot tarballs for during the coming weeks.