'I CAN'T get up,' simpered the fluffy blonde in a fuchsia pink ski suit. The rest of the ski class grimaced as the bronzed ski instructor swooped down, lifted her into his arms and gently brushed the snow from her hair.

'The tart,' murmured one girl, enviously. 'That's the fourth time today'. 'Fancy going skiing in full make-up' sniped another. But who's going to have the most fun en vacances?

It has to be acknowledged that whilst the more seasoned and sensible would shake their heads at the holiday romance, there will always be those who prefer to live for the milli-moment. If you're one of those free spirits who delights at stolen kisses a million miles away from mortgage repayments, bills and the cat throwing up on the carpet - you'll find plenty of snow, skiing and sauerkraut at Mayrhofen, the winter Benidorm of Austria. A day on the snowy slopes beats the sunny beach Hans down.

'Why wait for apres-ski?' giggled Sue Crasken, blowing gluhwein bubbles at a toy boy from Munich. According to Sue, avant-ski is actually the best time, and you need look no further than the first chairlift queue. Sue instructed: 'It requires a bit of practice, but after you've spied a ski god, you shuffle slowly or quickly forward until you align yourself next to him.

'As the chair swings round behind you both, don't forget to act innocently surprised when your eyes meet for the first time,' she continued. When airborne, ice-breaking conversation could include 'the mystic symbolism of two strangers simultaneously being swept off their feet' which as you head up into the clouds offers the option to change smoothly into 'Is there a God?'

Once you are off skiing the mountain network, mastering the art of queue-chatting is a piece of strudel. Variations on a theme include: 'Where does this chairlift take me to?' (look puzzled and helpless as you paw your mountain map) and: 'What's visibility like at the top?' (wiping designer goggles).

Try to avoid: 'Would you hold my hand as I'm a little bit nervous of heights'. Good in theory, but you have to consider the effect on your chosen one's disposition. Sharing a swaying, open chairlift with a potentially hysterical victim of vertigo will kill any romance.

'If you get bored in the queue, the latest ski-pass holder is vital,' smiled a young Scottish woman. She fingered a card dangling on an elastic string which was attached to a day-glo Yo-Yo clipped to the top of her anorak zip.

'You hand the pass to the handsome ticket collector, press the pinger, and slam-bam he's smacked against your lips'.

This brings us onto the classic: 'Do you have a light?'. As you huddle together in a howling blizzard halfway up a glacier, this casual act can take all day. By the time you've finally got your cigarette lit, you'll be talking about living together.

White-outs can provide golden opportunities. Try and pick out an expert skier to help you down. If you're lucky, it's your chance to follow someone to the ends of the earth. If unlucky, your chance to follow someone off it.

Most important of all, don't forget restaurants. Negotiating a tray laden with hot chocolate, soup and sauerkraut on a wet floor in ski-boots, is no mean feat, so asking for a steadying hand is quite acceptable. Alternatively, so is landing in a lap. Another ruse is to lean over to the next table and make gentle inquiries about the local dishes. You could start with Austria's famous sweet dumpling. 'Is your germknodle as good as it looks?' should get some sort of response.

If all else fails, there's always the last cable-car home. Often, the outrageous queues ensure that the mountain bar does a roaring trade, and the final cabin down is packed with 50 singing, schnapps-sodden skiers. The good news is, the majority are made up of muscular ski instructors paid to check the closing runs.

I know these men are a cliche, but picture this: The cable-car wire starts to break, the car lurches, and you face a 10,000 ft plummet. Whose powerful arms would you rather feel around you? Magnus von Viking of the mountains or Joe Bloggs of Basingstoke? Strange as it may seem, pressed together in the dark with a ski pole up your nose is a fun way to get to know each other.

Finally, don't feel disheartened if your cabin is not squashed to capacity. Anne Carr illustrated a neat way around this dilemma with a touch of basic ventriloquism.

'Get ready for this,' she whispered. The flat, nasal tones of a British Rail announcer were heard above the singing: 'The guard needs room. Can you all move closer together, please.' Clever. And it worked - magnificently.

(Photograph omitted)