This is basically just a post to announce that I have finished "The Third Policeman" and you should read it too.
I think it would be interesting if you re-read "Pilgrim's Progress" first, although I didn't do that, since they are sort of complementary. Though you probably have enough books to read already.
Anyway, bicycles are a big theme in "The Third Policeman". The first two policemen, Pluck and MacCruiskeen, are obsessed with bicycles. I am sure they ought to be an allegory for something but I am not sure what I want them to be. They sort of embody both cyclic motion and motion in a striaght line. They have the theory that gradually atoms of bicycle migrate into the riders and make them less human, while atoms of rider migrate into the bicycles and make it them more human. In my ideal life I would bicycle for three hours a day and this theory explains a lot about some of my more bicycle-like behaviour.
"How would you know a man has a lot of bicycle in his veins?"
"If his number is over Fifty you can tell it unmistakeable from his walk. He will walk smartly always and never sit down and he will lean against the wall with his elbow out and stay like that all night in the kitchen instead of going to bed. If he walks too slowly or stops in the middle of the road he will fall down in a heap and will have to be lifted and set in motion again by some extraneous party. That is the unfortunate state that the postman has cycled himself into, and I don't think he will ever cycle himself out of it."
While I cycle about not getting anywhere (since I always end up back home in the same place) I like to pretend that I am going somewhere. So using the wonders of GoogleMaps I have tracked my virtual progress from Land's End to John O'Groats, and last year I started virtually crossing the Sahara and gave up, and recently I have started virtually crossing the Sahara again. I am retracing some version of the path of the narrator of "Beau Geste" from Oran to Kano via Agades. On the basis of GoogleMaps, I am prepared to weigh into the debate into whether P. C. Wren ever actually joined the Foreign Legion - or even travelled extensively in Algeria - with a NOT.
About approaching Sidi bel-Abbes: "It was not until we were approaching our destination that sand-hills and desert encroached and a note of wildness and savagery prevailed".
No, the sand-hills and desert are far away on the other side of the mountains: it is still a long way to go to the top of the range from Sidi bel-Abbes, and while the cultivated land the road runs through might not have been cultivated then, there are plenty of uncultivated hills covered with trees.
I have ordered a paper about quantum physics in 'The Third Policeman' and I promise to come back with another post in which I quote slabs of it.