There is only so much rampant masculinity you can take over breakfast and, for my money, it is reassuringly confined to the man on the packet of Scott's Porage Oats. The image of that testosterone-packed Scotsman, shot-putting his way through our childhoods and still poised today, muscles rippling, with the breeze up his kilt, lifted the grey Bank Holiday Monday morning, confirming that all is well with the world. Even a recessionary one.
When the athletic Highlander was adopted as a symbol of the original Porage Oats in 1924, porridge was an austerity food, associated with prisons and cold winter mornings. Cooked with water or milk and a pinch of salt, it was Good For You in a robust, no-nonsense sort of way because it filled you up cheaply. Every mother knew that. There was no suspicion of the miraculous properties now being ascribed to it. And certainly no hint, other than subliminally, that the virile shot-putter in his white vest and big socks had breakfasted on nature's own Viagra. Now it looks as though he was fulfilling his symbolism all along. Better sex, sharper brains, longevity, lower cholesterol levels, weight loss... there is practically no modern health obsession that the humble oat does not address. As I ladled oats and nuts into a mixing bowl yesterday – the first stage of a recession-busting muesli – my eye was caught by yet another fantastic claim by scientists: porridge oats help children to concentrate at school.