Chris Difford is on a creative roll. Having well and truly earned his place as a national treasure with Squeeze, the witty South Londoner just can’t sit still.

More than four decades after forming the band with whom he bounced around the top of the hit parade in the early 80s, he is celebrating his second album in just three years and a welcome return to the upper echelons of the album charts.

He has also taken the time to pen a book of memoires, a musical, and has teamed up with bandmate Glenn Tilbrook to get their iconic band back on the road for a tour which, next month, makes it to the rolling acres of Great Tew Park, near Chipping Norton, for Cornbury Festival.

“Life is very satisfying,” says a softly-spoken and characteristically understated Chris. “I am very happy.”

With their breezy tunes about working class London life, young love and teenage angst, Squeeze – which also boasted a youthful Jools Holland on keys – provided the soundtrack to a generation. Songs like Up the Junction, Take Me I’m Yours, Cool For Cats, Black Coffee in Bed and Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), live on in the popular consciousness as nostalgic nuggets from a simpler, if grittier, era.

But while Chris and Glen may have made their name in the late 70s and early 80s, they are not in the business of serving up nostalgia to those in short trousers or bunches when Margaret Thatcher entered No10.

Alongside those kitchen-sink classics of old are tunes from 2015 album Cradle to the Grave – their Top 12 soundtrack to the BBC2 Danny Baker sitcom, and last year’s all-new The Knowledge.

It also comes off the back of Chris’s Fantastic Acoustic Book Tour, during which he shared snippets from his autobiography, Some Fantastic Place, alongside acoustic renditions of his big-hitters and tracks from Pants, a 'best of' album featuring songs from a stage play created by he and Boo Hewerdine.

“It was liberating to write the book,” he says. “This seemed like a good time to write it and it was also exciting to be able to tell the story from my point of view.”

He insists that did not mean righting wrongs nor levelling scores.

“I was not interested in doing that in writing,” he says. “I can do that in person – and don’t want to give them the oxygen. I tried to be as affectionate as I can.

“I didn’t concentrate on Squeeze, even though it was a big part of my life. I was purely writing about my life and journey. And it has given me the inspiration to write other things.”

Writing outside the band is, of course, nothing new for Chris. He penned the lyrics for the fictional band Strange Fruit in the 1998 British comedy film Still Crazy, for which he won his first Ivor Novello award, and has contributed lyrics for Elton John, Wet Wet Wet, Jools Holland, Paul Carrack, Lisa Stansfield and Bryan Ferry.

“I am lucky to be able to write,” he says. “It’s something I’ve done since I was 16 years-old. I knew I couldn’t do anything else.”

And what did Glenn make of the book? “I don’t know what Glenn thinks. I haven’t seen him taking a copy to bed with him," he says dryly. "But Jools read it and sent lots of favourable remarks by text.”

South London features heavily in the book, as it does in his latest albums.

“It’s the mix that made the cake,” he says of life in Greenwich, and his early days cutting his teeth in the pubs of Deptford. “It’s the streets and houses and flesh and blood of people I know and my family. It was a very inspirational place to be.

“Of course, no one can afford to live there now. London has become an island. The place is owned by lots of different people who don’t live there.”

Is he nostalgic for the early days of Squeeze – the band now being on its third incarnation: “We were living in each other’s pockets and people found it difficult to go on,” he answers.

“Some saw they were making a fortune and loved what they were doing. Other people went out to perform because it’s what they’ve done all their lives, but it is not a central focus of my life.

“I don’t think the band can be a centre of attention. You can’t take all that amount of energy at that age. There is family, other projects and this, that and the other. It can’t be the main thing.”

But there must have been some amazing times. What was the best moment?

“I don’t think I’ve got to that stage yet,” he says.

“Though I do remember being in America in the 80s, touring stadiums and driving around in a limousine and thinking ‘this is what we set out to do’.

“Then I spent most of the cash only to find ourselves going down the mountain on the the other side trying to find some footing so we didn’t slip. But you’ve just got to put a good show on and make a living of it.”

He adds: “Most of the drinking and drug taking years were great fun and there were fantastic shows around that.

"I don’t look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’. I wish I’d drunk more on some days! It helps with some people – but also takes some people’s lives away. There’s a tipping point and a lot of people I work with don’t understand that.

“I always listened to the voice in my head telling me when to leave the party and I had a great time. Other people didn’t have that voice and didn’t know when to stop.”

For all the adulation that came of playing stadium shows, however, he ranks his recent smaller shows as among his favourites.

“Going on the book tour with Boo and me on stage was a highlight,” he says.

“We were playing to 150 people a night, but for me that was just as satisfying as playing Madison Square Garden."

With bands and artists as diverse as Lily Allen, Mark Ronson, Kasabian, Razorlight and The Feeling all admitting their debt to Squeeze, and the band still topping bills at festivals like Cornbury, what’s the key to achieving the longevity they have enjoyed?

“The secret to longevity is don’t talk to each other,” Chris deadpans – or maybe he’s being deadly serious. “And don’t go out with each other outside of touring.

“It is well documented that Glenn and I have had our ups and downs and you can’t be in a band under tension. It isn’t healthy if you’re pulling in different directions because of what you want.

"The only way around it is to muscle on around each other – come out on stage and perform brilliantly and think you are on a winner!”

  • Squeeze play Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, July 13-15.
  • Some Fantastic Place by Chris Difford is out now