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Last gasps of the empire -- you can buy it canned in HK

HDN | 5/30/1997 12:00:00 AM |

Reuters Hong Kong- Two shrewd Hong Kong entrepreneurs are selling the last gasps of Britain's empire in the form of canned Colonial Air, to mark the territory's return to China. If there's a way to make a quick buck in Hong Kong's hustling-bustling capitalist system, someone will find it, so here come cans of Colonial Air, selling well at $HK 55 ($US 7) each. Fish and chips and cricket may remain enmeshed in Hong Kong life for years to come after the July 1 handover to China. But colonial airs, graces

Reuters

Hong Kong- Two shrewd Hong Kong entrepreneurs are selling the last gasps of Britain's empire in the form of canned Colonial Air, to mark the territory's return to China.

If there's a way to make a quick buck in Hong Kong's hustling-bustling capitalist system, someone will find it, so here come cans of Colonial Air, selling well at $HK 55 ($US 7) each.

Fish and chips and cricket may remain enmeshed in Hong Kong life for years to come after the July 1 handover to China. But colonial airs, graces and pomposity are truly Britain's legacy in Hong Kong, according to local entrepreneurs Jon Resnick and Guy Nicholls.

To recapture all this, they have sealed cans of Hong Kong air. Hundreds of people are buying the souvenirs.

But customers sniff at risk.Colonial Air, which claims to contain 100 percent pure pomposity, warns that one whiff "could lead to extreme arrogance, stiffening of the upper lip or worse."

"We wanted to sum up what it means to be colonial," said Resnick an American who has been in Hong Kong for 15 years. Hong Kong, the last major bastion of the old British empire, is reverting to Chinese rule after 156 years.

Both Resnick and Nicholls, a Briton who has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, warn against unleashing the air, but admit to having done so in rash moments.

"If you really have got a good nose for it, you can pick up maybe the occasional cucumber sandwich or steak-and-kidney pies," Nicholls said of the air's smell. "Breathe deeply. There could be a chance of Smith's Best Bitter (beer)."

Nicholls hinted that a sophisticated nose may detect traces of linseed oil on cricket bats and fresh cut grass from a bowling lawn in the colonial air as well.

CongoSnappers, Resnick and Nicholls' company, has sold over 4,000 cans of the Colonial Air which shows a picture of onetime Hong Kong Governor Sir Frederick Lugard. "It's a fun product" Nicholls said. "I think it will appeal to tourists and it's certainly got a few laughs locally."

"From a political point of view, everything we produce is apolitical" Nicholls said.

CongoSnappers is also selling handover-inspired T-shirts, such as the Great Chinese Takeaway on which a giant hand wielding chopsticks grabs the island of Hong Kong.

Although their T-shirts are made in China, the duo vow that the contents of Colonial Air are genuine -- captured, canned and sealed in Hong Kong.

With Hong Kong's imminent handover rapidly approaching, handover memorabilia like countdown clocks have popped up in shopping centers, markets and peddlar stalls all over Hong Kong.

Resnick and Nicholls hope to make money, but insist their mission statement is Fun. "We'll come away with a profit," Resnick said. "We make 100 percent profit on the air."

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