Bag collecting is not confined to the crazy fringes of society - what one poet has called "misunderstood, undersexed, and wholly unattractive".

On the contrary: mainstream figures in the worlds of entertainment and politics are also avid collectors. They travel widely, so have many opportunities to "harvest" bags. Unlike their plebeian confrères, they are unlikely to be accosted when leaving the plane and accused of stealing airline property. And bags provide a cachet of rebelliousness and unconformity that even establishment figures find it handy to cultivate.

Grover Norquist

Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist is a high-profile collector who is not ashamed of his habit. In fact, his Democratic opponents have taken to calling him "barf bag Norquist".

According to the Washington Post, Mr Norquist "is often described as an eccentric. For a bedside table, Norquist uses a giant green canister for Kraft parmesan cheese. He displays what he hopes will be the world's largest collection of airsickness bags. At staff meetings, employees say, he holds court while variously sitting on a giant red plastic ball, eating tuna from a can, rubbing his feet against a massager and sniffing hand lotion as he kneads it into his fingers. He excuses himself to go to 'the ladies room.'"

The world's largest collection? That will put fear into the eyes of Niek Vermeulen (the current title holder), as well as a host of wannabes.

It's nice to know that not all baggists are as eccentric as Mr Norquist (at least, I generally put tuna on a plate before I consume it). And for those baggists who are genuinely eccentric - well, you're in good company. You too can reach the pinnacle of your profession by collecting bags and annoying people who disagree with you.

Massachusetts-based baggist and Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum curator Steve Silberberg has tried to contact Mr Norquist several times about his habit, but so far has not received a reply.

Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington is a do-it-yourself specialist who stars in Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and American TV show on home improvement.

According to this article in Good Housekeeping, Ty also collects airsickness bags. I've asked him if he'd like to join the barfbags egroup and whether he's interested in trading bags.