As the 'Ski Holidays' are upon us, I thought it a good opportunity to pass on some tips for a successful ski holiday, gained from years of attending the ski school of hard knocks.

Speaking of ski schools, you can miss the first six days of lessons. It's logical: as a beginner you spend your first six days on the slopes perfecting snow plough turns, only to spend the next six days unlearning this and learning a parallel turns. So, it stands to reason that you can save a lot of valuable time by joining a class at day seven.

What not to wear. This is the most import decision of the whole holiday. Blue jeans: whilst very popular amongst good skiers in the 1970s, today skiing in jeans screams "I am trying this for the first time and am too mean to splash out on any proper clothes." On the theme of splash, if you ski jeans, you will be surprised at their sponge-like qualities. They will get soaked even if you don't fall and they take a week to dry over 1000 meters up. Whatever you wear on your legs, do not tuck them into your ski boots. This attracts large accumulations of snow in your boots.
Also avoid ski clothing from Migros (if Migros advertise in this publication, please ignore this paragraph). Their clothing is excellent, and well-priced, however, you will find it embarrassing to be continually spoken to by complete strangers and have your partner do the same because 10% of skiers will be dressed exactly the same as you. With children this is particularly distressing and can result in bringing the wrong child home.
On the other hand, wearing the latest fashion will make others think you are a good skier even if you are not and maybe some of that unjustified confidence will rub off on you too. The Japanese use this technique extensively. The same applies to skis; new skis with highly exaggerated claims plastered over them are worth a week's progress – the likes of "Triple Unbelievable Mega Explosive World Champion Summit Crusher" will do nicely. Boots however should be bought for comfort not looks and it is always better if they don't leak. But, this is often hard to verify in a sports store.

Queuing in a line. Once you can stand for a couple of minutes on skis without falling over, it is essential to master the Swiss art of queuing for a ski lift. This is in fact, not a line as we non-Swiss understand, but more a human version of the migration of the wildebeest on skis.
The ski-lift melee operates under a number of unwritten rules. These include not standing on other peoples' skis – however impossible this may seem. Ski-lift operators often place a 90° turn in the run up to their lift to test this rule. The worst part is that everyone else in the race to get up the slope will pass you by and you can spend a whole morning waiting and make no progress whatsoever. To this end, it is essential that you place each of your poles casually but firmly between the skis of the people either side of you. Do not under any circumstances, other than when you make forward progress, remove the poles. This will casually, but politely prevent your neighbor's forward progress past you. Should the person next to you be a snow boarder, place your poles on the far side of their board to achieve the same result. Please note: it is essential that this maneuver is made as unobtrusively as possible and one should look nonchalantly in the opposite direction after planting the pole.

Happy skiing!