'Childhood friends Stanley and Wigg were so in thrall to the capital they'd all but lie to themselves to feel part of the city. "The cachet of London was such that we used to go to pubs by the nearest stop that had a London postcode, because Croydon had a Surrey postcode," Wiggs remembers. "So we'd go to Norwood and New Cross, just to go to the pub. 'We're out in London tonight! Going uptown!"'
But then Bob Stanley really puts his foot in it: 'And in the great psychic divide marked by the Thames that separates one sort of Londoner from another, they come down firmly on one side. "South London's not really London, is it?" Stanley says. "It's just an endless suburb. Also, there's obvious musical heritage in the bits of London I'm drawn to – Joe Meek in the Holloway Road. And Muswell Hill always seemed like a grimy place from the Kinks."
Oh dear. The band's musical reference points have always been centred round the 1960s. They have made some great music, but sadly that same 1960s Soho template makes for a narrow vision of London. Moving beyond The Kinks and Joe Meek, there's also obvious musical heritage in many parts of South London: reggae sound systems and lovers rock from New Cross and Lewisham, late 70s pub rock and early new wave from Deptford and Greenwich (Squeeze, Dire Straits etc.), dubstep from Croydon... I could go on, but you could just look through this blog for many other examples.
Saint Etienne's best song took its name from a Croydon based paving company. Getting back in touch with their South London roots might not do their songwriting any harm.