I found “Championship Vinyl” (and you can’t prove I didn’t)

See where it says "shop to let"? And do you see any window-shoppers?

Well, I told you I would find the former site of “Championship Vinyl,” the record shop in High Fidelity, and I did. And no one (except maybe Nick Hornby) can tell me I’m wrong.

It satisfies the criteria:

  1. It’s in Holloway.
  2. It’s just off the Seven Sisters Road.
  3. It’s in a location that guarantees the “minimum of window-shoppers” — in other words, the only customers are those geeky young males who go out of their way to seek the place out.
  4. I was looking for a vacant space, on the theory that since the book was published 15 years ago, and since Rob was trending toward changing his life for the better toward the end, that he would have moved on from running the store, or moved it to a better location, or something by now. I mean, he and Laura would have some kids by now. Any road, this is a good theory for me to have to explain that it’s not actually there, since, you know, it never really existed.

I made up that last criterion, but the first three are in the book.

So, you ladies are wondering — just how patient is my wife, to go along to places like this? Well, she didn’t. This was the one thing I did

Unfortunately, the souvenir shop wasn't open. I had wanted one of those scarves...

on my own. Today was the day we were leaving London for Oxford, and she just wanted to get up and get ready. So I got up before she did, hopped the Jubilee line down to Green Park and got on the Picadilly way out to Islington, to Holloway Road, and hiked over to Seven Sisters.

Then, after “finding” Championship Vinyl (it was the first street off Seven Sisters with some actual commercial fronts off the main road) on Hornsey Road, I walked back east until I got to Arsenal Stadium, the scene of other Hornby tales. At Arsenal, at least, I wasn’t the only geek taking pictures of the stadium — but the others were English football fans. One guy was having his wife take his picture there while she tried to keep the kids in order.

After I found the Arsenal Tube station (this required asking directions four times, twice from people who did not speak English), I rode back to our stop, and left Swiss Cottage station with sadness. I really, really love the Underground. (There’s no other way I could have gone all the way to Islington in a city this crowded and done all that walking about and gotten back in less than two hours.)

When I got back, J had packed for both of us, and we took a taxi to Victoria Coach Station for the ride to Oxford. Come to think of it, she really is enormously patient with me…

Oh, and if you wonder why I would want to do this… well, you just have to read High Fidelity. The movie was great, but the novel was much better.

Or maybe THIS is it, a couple of doors down. I can see how experts could in good faith disagree...

11 thoughts on “I found “Championship Vinyl” (and you can’t prove I didn’t)

  1. Emerson

    Go to the Sherlock Holmes Hotel, 108 Baker Street for the St. Marylebone Rotary Club, meeting at 1230. Get there by noon for a pint of ale with fellow Rotarians. About 18 members at a meeting who welcome their American cousins. A great slice of life experience. Call (tel 020 8863 7489) to let them know you’re coming. Wife and granddaughter welcome. They still owe me a banner. Pick one up for me.

  2. Nick Pamphilon

    Nick Hornby would have been writing about Highbury, that’s the old arsenal stadium next to Arsenal tube. Not the new Emirates station you photographed. The highbury site has now been converted into apartments, but one of the original stand facades still remains .
    Interestingly the pitch was narrower than the European standard, they got special dispensation from the champions league to host matches there, and the team’s playing style was adapted to these unique proportions.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, thanks for sharing. You’re not the first to point that out, but I have to confess that when I was there, I didn’t realize it…

  3. Tosh Brice

    I used to live in Holloway and would go to the shop and buy LPs before the book was published. My recollection is that it was in a side street off the Holloway Road, between the Holloway tube station and Highbury Corner – ie, turn right off the Holloway Road walking in that direction and it was on the right, a few yards in.

Comments are closed.