Any Welshman worth his consonants will not deny the worth of a cleansing sing now and then, and this sporadic autobiography by the Welsh literary luminary provides some fine, lyrical jolly gloom and gloomy jollity along selected highpoints of the life journey. Early school and village years, Oxford, foreign study and assorted contemporary occupations erupt with the impact of personalities and the ""burning to an ash"" of Thomas' ""nerve endings."" Born in 1913 in a small Welsh mining village, by the time the author was fourteen he had ""launched into a career of nicotine poisoning and explosive disbelief."" However, intruding upon melancholy immolation were some engaging-to-terrifying originals: a sweetshop owner and his alcoholic wife, whose ""transitions from radiance to dark"" had something to tell Thomas about future character judgments; a dictatorial headmaster; a mad Hawthorne family in a haunted rural manse; a fierce bee-keeping teacher; plebs and publicans of more contemporary TV and theatrical persuasions. Of modern plays Thomas is chary: ""The brave new thomas of rape and buggery... did not engage my mind.... The people for whom I had wished to speak had long ago shut up."" While a good deal of this autobiography serves the author as balm for his tortured neurons, the meander also offers some melodious entertainment.