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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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In Memoriam    

By Peter V
4602 Views | 11 Comments | 3/18/2015 5:49:55 PM

Gareth's candlelight was lost to us too soon.

I never met Gareth. In person, that is. I knew him, as most of you reading this will, through his writings. But that is not an inconsequential way to get to know someone. Indeed, most writers will tell you that this is their preferred way of interacting with the world.

Writers reveal who they are through their words. We put our personality into our writings both consciously through the opinions we express, the situations we describe, and the ideas we endorse and unconsciously through the thousand tics that every writer has.  If you read enough of someone’s writing, you will get a sense—a fairly accurate one I would argue—of who they are. Not the entirety of the person, but enough to make a fairly informed judgment of how you would get along with them.

As an example, I once met one of the bloggers for this site (who shall remain nameless). I had a feeling he would come off as abrasive given the nature of his blogs and, unsurprisingly, he fulfilled this expectation—and then some. As I said, I unfortunately never actually got around to meeting Gareth.  Yet I am sure that we would have gotten along fabulously. From his writings, from his comments on my blog, and from our personal communication, I could tell we had the same general perspective on China. We were both amazed and amused by Chinese culture, alternately awed and incredulous. But above all we both loved China, although since he stuck around for a decade and was still going strong while I left after four years, I would have to say Gareth loved her more, and understood her more as well, which was clear to anyone who has read his  blogs.

When I learned of his death, I went back and reread all of his blogs. I had kept up on them of course in real time, as they were published, until about six months ago when a major life transition caused me to be busier than I cared to be, taking me away both from my own writing about China and from reading Gareth’s blog.

He was not simply one of the best bloggers on the site; he was the best blogger in the history of the site, bar none. Bertrand Russell described the happy life as one guided by knowledge and motivated by love, and I can think of no more accurate evaluation of Gareth’s blogs.  His writing was characterized above all by a great humanity. He probed beneath the sometimes disturbing surface and rough appearances of life in China and revealed the humanness hidden there, the underlying spirit that connects us. Gareth could examine something like the Chinese tendency to disregard the whole idea of queuing and respond with an exculpatory remark that back in the day (and we all know what day we are talking about) if you waited in line at the market, your family did not get fed.

A second and always related characteristic was his humor, a good natured humor that was as willing to poke fun at himself as at the culture he loved but never completely fit into. You don’t write a column entitled “3rd Date Marriage Proposal” or claim in it that the standards for a “suitable match” in China involve having “two arms, two legs, and a few of your own teeth” without both a sense of humor and a profound understanding of China. But even such pungent observations were made not to show off Gareth's wit but to deepen our understanding of China, in this case, as a commentary on the plight of what it is like to be a woman over age thirty in China. And that is what he did better than anyone on the site, better than most of the books I have read about China, is explain China to the outsider.

In one of his blog’s, Gareth stated that his grandfather once told him that when you go to another country, always put on that country’s eyeglasses. The legacy of his writing should be to remind us all of this when we write, reflect on and think about China.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2015-03-18 18:15:28 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Peter, your description of Gareth, as viewed through his writings, describes my own feelings and thoughts to perfection, something I was unable to do myself. I am well aware of your current situation taking up all of your time, and I'm also aware that nobody can voluntarily blog on a Chinese dating site forever, so do not take this in anyway other than literally, but what an unbelievable shame it is that the two people who in my humble opinion would have by far the most rightful claim to the crown of best blogger of all time on the blogs, Gareth and yourself, are both back in the spotlight here only due to Gareth's demise.

There are so many happier events that might have brought this about. It is good to see your writing again on these pages, and you have done Gareth proud with your wonderful words, but wouldn't it have been wonderful if we could have been reading both of you and many others in some form of a reunion here. Would but that I had thought of that many months ago instead of just now while reading your blog.

Just the same thanks so much for coming back and so eloquently describing Gareth the writer, and Gareth the man. I know his many readers and friends will deeply appreciate it, I among them.(clap)

#2015-03-18 20:48:15 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

I always enjoy reading your blogs but seldom respond. It's notng personal but quite often I really cannot think of a witty retort, so I just read and enjoy.
However, as a fellow blogger who knew Gareth the 'man' I have to say that your words are pretty much spot on
Gareth was a good, kind and inspirational man to all of us who knew him personally, or through his writings.
He is, and will be, sadly missed
Cheers mate

#2015-03-18 22:58:01 by melcyan @melcyan

" If you read enough of someone’s writing, you will get a sense—a fairly accurate one I would argue—of who they are." I agree.

Thank you for taking the time to compose this well written In Memoriam for Gareth. I too wish I had met Gareth. If I had read Gareth's blogs four years ago I would have made a point of trying to meet him when I was in Suzhou in 2011.

I tried to write to him privately last year but I was unsuccessful. Like yourself and others here I feel a strong sense of loss of a very unique person with a special insight into China. I wonder how his writing would have evolved after experiencing China from the inside of a Chinese family. Unfortunately we will never know.

I hope Anniehow is still able to translate his blog "Red flags when dating Chinese women". I think it would be a great opportunity for more Chinese women on CLM to have access to some of Gareth's best writing.

Peter thank you again for your thoughtful and insightful words.

#2015-04-17 10:32:37 by Anniehow @Anniehow


Hi John, I finished translating Gareth’s blog article “Redflags” finally… I would like to use it to commemorate his passing away and help the ladies. I lost your email address as gmail is blocked in China and your profile is closed again. Please either message me on CLM or post it here so that I could send it to you. Thanks!

#2015-04-17 13:39:47 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Anniehow - Hi Annie, I hope you receive this. You can email me at and write Attn: John in the subject line. Someone will get it to me fairly quickly. I look forward to posting your translation and thank you very much for doing it. I also look forward to an update of you are doing now that you're back in China.

#2015-04-18 11:25:37 by Anniehow @Anniehow


I sent it to you. Please check.

#2015-06-23 00:04:00 by danruble @danruble

Peter , John et al, due to personal matters,I have been away from here for some time, in fact, far too long. This warm, lazy Sunday morning, with large beige coffee, and even larger orange cat perched on my computer desk, I logged onto CLM I proceeded to bring my self up to date on my CLM family. After first checking several attractive young ladies profiles, I decided to catch up on the always interesting blogs. When I saw " In Memoriam" my heart skipped a beat. I mentally rushed through the possibilities.. John, Gareth, Hat Man? Peter? or perhaps some other CLM family member?, some other whose name that I could not recall? My heart sank when I realized we had lost one of ours. My heart sank much further as I read the opening line..." I had never met Gareth..." O damn... I too wanted to meet this man. My thoughts raced back to a few of his memorable pieces here on CLM. Back to his tales of curious , amorous, and absurd dealings with neighbors, dates and daily ( and nightly) living in his adopted China. Though he oft times spoke in frustration, and bewilderment, we knew he would probably never leave this love hate relationship. I think about his writings... electric bikes, strange cultural observations, his unique way of understanding, empathizing and handling of dealings in China. China was his new home, and he took us on a tour of every room. After reading a few of his posts and blogs it was obvious, at least to me, that, here is a truly unique and gifted individual that has a truly unique insight and outlook on life, both relating to China and the rest of the world. Numerous times I have thought When I visit China, this is a man I must meet. I often try to relate his story of the " Chicken Machine", albeit, far less eloquently then he. If you have not read Gareth's works, you owe it to yourself to do so soon. If you have read it, go back and read it again. No, I never had the chance to meet him, but from his sharp eye, wit and self effacing manner I am sure that anyone that had a chance to meet him in person would be a far richer individual for the experience. I will miss that guy I never met, but knew as a friend....I have to go back and re read his stuff. God Speed Gareth." .

#2015-06-23 14:25:43 by Barry1 @Barry1


Very well spoken, Dan.

I think you've summed up precisely how all of us both felt - and still feel - at Gareth's premature passing.

It reminds me so well of the old cliche, you never know what you've got til it's gone.

Well done, mate. (y)

#2015-07-03 12:11:37 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@danruble - I have been on the road, longer than intended as it turns out, so I am just now back and responding to some earlier comments made on the blogs. To you, my old friend, I simply want to say "welcome back"! (handshake) It is such a treat to see your handle back on the blogs. You have been missed.

How tragic that it comes about because of Gareth's passing, but at the same time it is one more indication of just how important the man was to all of us, and how revered he remains today. Thank you for coming back to leave your usual wise thoughts with us again.

Please Dan, don't be a stranger!

#2015-08-19 06:33:18 by 1940MERCURY @1940MERCURY

@JohnAbbot Hello John, Are Gareth's blogs available to read?
Thanks for your comments also


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