HAVE you ever stood on the pavement above an underground railway and felt the train rumble beneath you, sending a low shuddering vibration through your feet and into your body? It’s a strange, unsettling, sensation. As a child it made me feel vulnerable. I’d imagine that something awful was lurking just out of sight, some monster which nobody could see was beneath the ground – that it was going to erupt through the concrete at any moment, spreading havoc and destruction.

That’s how I feel about coronavirus right now – that its real monstrous attack on us is yet to come; that the worst is just out of sight; that we’re waiting for the ground to crack open and swallow us whole. I fear that we’re only just leaving the Phoney War stage when it comes to Covid – that so far we haven’t seen the half of it. When it comes to deaths, it’s just the first wave that’s over. This winter will show us what the virus really has in store.

Horribly, an ever increasing death toll will be only one of the wounds this virus is going to leave on the body of the world. The economic and political destruction that’s about to arrive will be devastating.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that a tsunami is coming which is going to sweep away everything that lies in its path. Lives, jobs, wealth, beliefs – the world as we know it is going to be changed utterly very soon, and we really aren’t prepared for it. In truth, there’s no way to prepare for what’s coming.

Every day we see signs of the destruction that awaits us – and all the while our politicians appear on TV, playing at being leaders, but really they’re little more than petty King Canutes shouting at the sea to retreat as it mounts up the beach, soon to swallow them up as well. It’s a fitting metaphor – politics as we know it will be swept away with the coming tsunami too, just as surely as the jobs and lives of ordinary people will be lost.

The moment when this Phoney War will turn into something much more terrifying will come at the end of this month, when the furlough scheme stops. That’s when we’re going to see dole queues which will make the 1930s look like an era of prosperity. Nobody is safe.

By mid summer, around 750,000 jobs were already lost. Between March and August, the number of people claiming benefits rose 120 per cent to 2.7 million. The biggest rise in unemployment is among the young, but soon the crisis among older workers will hit – with a mountain of lost jobs in middle age and little or no chance to retrain.

The cinema industry – the canary in the coalmine – is effectively going into suspended animation, shedding thousands of workers. Covid isn’t just going to claim jobs, it’s going to claim whole sectors of the economy.

Some sneered the other day when actors, writers and musicians spoke out in anger after the UK chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested people working in the arts should retrain if they lose their jobs. Who’s going to hire a middle-aged theatre manager, though, as a supermarket worker when there’s 1000 teenagers applying for the same job? The creative industries are in peril – an entire pillar of society is collapsing. Cinemas, theatres, live music, book festivals – it’s all unsustainable. Tourism is on its knees. Pubs and restaurants are crying for help. Around 250,000 small businesses face either collapse, or brutal job cuts just to survive.

One million Scots were living in poverty even before Covid struck – an utterly disgraceful figure which should shame the Scottish Government. These people will now be swept even deeper into despair.

Jobs and health go hand in hand. The Thatcher era taught us that. Rob a person of work, and watch the consequences when it comes to physical and mental health.

More than 100,000 Scottish patients had surgery called off during the first five months after lockdown. God knows what this winter holds in store for the sick and suffering.

We’ve been trying to hide our eyes from this growing pain, but soon the agony will be so pronounced that public rage, already simmering, will spill over. And that’s when the political world as we know it will be swept away. The people will want change – let’s pray it’s peaceable change, and that the only scapegoats sought are those in political office.

In times of economic crisis, the appeal of the extremist is strong. The echoes of a century ago are too powerful not to heed. We’re about to enter a new great depression. Will it forge some new dreadful ideology, resurrect something hateful from the past?

It’s impossible to predict where our politics now goes. By next year, constitutional rows like Brexit and independence may seem quaint, or become turbo-charged for one side or the other amid Covid chaos. Will the likes of Nicola Sturgeon or Boris Johnson even be in power next year? Politically, they may survive, or they may be footnotes.

It should scare us all that these coming political upheavals will occur not in an era of class-based politics, but of identity. Yesterday we learned that the world’s billionaires worry that their ever increasing wealth – their fortunes rose by more than a quarter or nearly £8 trillion during Covid – could lead to public anger. If only.

The likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk needn’t fret. In times past, rage might have been directed at the super-rich, today we’re more likely to turn on ourselves – divided over identity when we should be united through economics. All we can do is mentally prepare for what’s coming. We need to adopt a brace position. When the worst hits, remember who’s to blame – not ordinary people, but the powerful.

These last few years, we should have learned to disagree better – instead we decided to disagree worse. We chose ugly, divisive politics. That will destroy us once the Covid tsunami really hits. It might be too late to learn how to stop hating and dividing, to realise what unites us all as ordinary people. That’s the only thing that will save us from catastrophe.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.