Excuse me for a moment while I channel the scary blue puppet from the Saw films.
**Clears throat, adopts menacing voice**
It’s time to play a game.
You have two choices: you can either submit or you can fight. The choice is yours – but it’s one you need to make quickly before you end up in a world of pain.
No, I’m not talking about being stuck in a human-sized egg slicer (although, for some, that would be preferable) I’m talking about the World Cup.
For the next five weeks, our favourite TV channels – not to mention every radio station, website and social media feed – will be straining under the weight of non-stop football.
For many, it’s the dream scenario: 64 matches broadcast around the clock, set against a backdrop of beers, barbecues and Brazilian beats.
However, for others – and, let’s face it, I’m being realistic rather than sexist here in saying ‘others’ = ‘women’ – it’s a nightmare. Gone are the usual TV treats and in their place a grumpy-looking Adrian Chiles talking about Raheem Sterling’s pass accuracy.
So the choice footie-haters is thus: do you get stuck in, paint your face red and white and try to enjoy the soccer spectacular or do you boycott the whole thing?
I for one am torn.
Back when the England squad boasted mass-appeal names such as David Seaman, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the like, I loved the big tournaments. But that was before footballers became public enemy number one; before a huge portion of the country grew weary of their bloated bank balances and chavvy, cheating ways.
These days, the whole thing feels a bit flat to me.
I also feel like I’ve blinked and missed an entire generation of England players. I know Hart, I know Gerrard, I know Lampard and Rooney. That’s about it. In all honesty, it’s going to be hard for me to cheer on Luke Shaw when I couldn’t pick him out of line-up – even if he was wearing a shirt with ‘Shaw’ on the back and holding up his passport and birth certificate.
I’ve therefore got the feeling that 2014 will be the World Cup I engage with the least.
But what else is on offer?
Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s very little else available. I believe the technical term is ‘sod all’.
Let’s take the first match as an example. The Brazil V Croatia coverage starts at 7pm on Thursday on ITV and finishes at 11.15pm. Wah!
But if that doesn’t tickle your pickle, there’s only nature, cooking and interior design waiting in the wings, plus a few tired comedy repeats. There’s no blistering new drama series or interesting doc, just two hours of Springwatch on BBC Two, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on 4 and Master-bleedin’-Chef on BBC One.
And the next match, Spain V Netherlands on BBC One on Friday at 7.30pm? Well, when that’s on, ITV simply catches up with the soaps and BBC Two has Antiques Road Trip and Gardeners’ World. Woah there, calm down.
Only Channel 4 gets things right: offering up a brand new series in the shape of Celebrity Fifteen to One, the shouldn’t-work-but-somehow-does 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and A-listers Pharrell Williams and Nicole Scherzinger on Alan Carr: Chatty Man.
Despite that, I reckon it’ll be five weeks of getting reacquainted with the DVD player for me. With more than 300 hours of football on the telly, I’ll be able to watch the entire series of Friends three times over.
After all, your mother warned you there’d be days like these, but she didn’t tell you when the World Cup would bring you down to your knees.Subscribe to our Newsletter