Like the World Cup was directed by David Lynch

To paraphrase the final line in Stand by Me: “I never had any World Cups later on like the one I had when I was 12.” Well, maybe the one when I was 16. But regardless of your age, it’s hard to beat the magic of the tournament.

So it is with heavy heart to note that the World Cup in Qatar promises to be the most surreal of experiences – not like Salvador Dali or David Lynch, but more in a 2017 everybody cool is dying kind of way.

For many, their two favourite months of any even-numbered year have been packed into one. And it promises to be overkill: like the 3,900 tonnes of explosives that flattened Dresden or the line-up at the 1996 Roskilde Festival (Bowie again).

Is there life in bars?
Staging it in November and December is a once-in-a-lifetime event for us all. After all, FIFA will never be this corrupt again, and the oil isn’t going to last forever.

On Fridays in December, watching World Cup knockout games in pubs and bars will compete with office julefrokoster and trips to Tivoli, while in shops Panini albums will battle it out with advent calendars and ceramic nisser.

Given the choice, most would say ‘one at a time’: let’s enjoy the World Cup and the build-up to Christmas, but not together. How much pampering can our livers indulge? 

The June genie
For the many who love football, some of their happiest ever moments are rooted in watching the tournament. But how much of that owes itself to the tournament taking place in the best month of the year?

June, in the northern hemisphere, routinely churns out the weather dreams are made of. More often than not, it’s the first month of the year to deliver genuinely warm days – a novelty factor that makes you treasure the time all the more.

In recent years, July and August have become positively tropical, bringing as much torrential rain as balmy weather. But June is always crisp: its blue skies a reminder of Planet Earth at its best.

Under pressure
The World Cup in Qatar presents fans with many dilemmas: every single fixture is a potential clash with work responsibilities, precious family time, and Christmas-themed occasions that we can’t grab the headlines of later.

What time should we start drinking when we watch games, and what is a reasonable time to stop work? Should we sacrifice watching our children’s Nativity play to enjoy games with friends? Will we end up spending less on presents for loved ones? And will we be too zonked out by the time Christmas arrives to enjoy it properly?

Jesus got Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The World Cup in Qatar could end up giving us a pink slip, a divorce and cirrhosis. 

Let’s dance!
So read on and enjoy! This special edition is packed full of information about how to best enjoy the 2022 World Cup: from the best big screen venues to watch games to your best bet to find kindred spirits (page 10).

We’ve also caught up on the mixed-nationality couples anxiously awaiting Denmark’s group games (3-5) and got the lowdown on the hosts (pages 8-9). If things don’t go Qatar’s way, they could easily end up as the worst performing home country in history. But who knows! Maybe FIFA will pull out the magic wand – like they did for South Korea in 2002.

In the immortal words of David Bowie: Let’s dance!