Managed to get my problem with the xbox sorted on the phone when I called them xbox.
I found when I lost the internet one day it somehow affected the last download/ patch from xbox, and I found I could not load up multiplayer in Back ops and only Black ops was affected.
Thankfully thats sorted and I can play again.
However no matter how much the xbox guy had me play with the machine we could not cure the problem of friends avatars, and the fact that when I press the X button and go to friends I am unable to see their avatars, unless I click on a particular friend which then brings up their avatar.
It does not affect the game and must be a software problem.
If you know of something that might help me sort this, do tell.